Blog Post

Why one doctor stopped taking insurance, slashed his prices

May 31, 2013

    Paige Baschuk, Daily Briefing

    Two months ago, physician Michael Ciampi stopped accepting all forms of health insurance at his primary care practice in Portland, Maine. He says the move has given him the freedom to cut prices and become a better doctor. 

    On April 1, Ciampi posted flat rates for all exams and procedures on his website: a brief office visit costs $50, a complete exam $150, and a blood test $20. Just like a restaurant, patients pay at the end of a visit—there are no mailed bills, no bill collectors, and no cost-sharing to assess. A patient must submit his or her own insurance paperwork for any reimbursements.

    The radical shift cost Ciampi several hundred of his 2,000 regular patients, but he says the freedom is worth it.

    "I'm freed up to do what I think is right for the patients," Ciampi told the Bangor Daily News. "If I'm providing them a service that they value, they can pay me, and we cut the insurance out as the middleman and cut out a lot of the expense."

    He says he was able to halve his prices because of the dramatic reduction in overhead costs. He used to bill $160 for an office visit for an existing patient with one or more complicated health issues; now, he charges just $75.

    Moreover, Ciampi can offer discounts to patients struggling with their medical bills. He even has the freedom to make house calls.

    Despite the loss of some patients, Ciampi expects his practice to perform just as well—if not better. He says his lower prices likely will attract patients who are self-employed, have no insurance, or have high-deductible health plans.

    Ciampi thinks physicians will follow his lead into concierge care as health care reform increasingly complicates physicians' ability to practice. "If more doctors were able to do this, that would be real health care reform," Ciampi told the Daily News, adding, "That's when we'd see the cost of medicine truly go down."

    Also in today's Daily Briefing

    On the blogs

    • At the Margins: The Financial Leadership Council's Sarah Gabriel explains how to make affordable financing a win-win for patients and hospitals.
    • Practice Notes: The Medical Group Strategy Council's Tiffany Chan outlines three steps to overcome state regulations obstructing effective nurse practitioner utilization.
    • Practice Notes: Chan explains recent trends in assigning advanced practitioners their own panels.

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