A Maine doctor announced last month he would stop taking insurance from patients as a form of payment. He instead posted how much different services would cost on his website.
According to the Bangor Daily News, Dr. Michael Ciampi of Portland said he might have some lost patients because of the choice, but they all seemed to understand why he did it.
“It’s been almost unanimous that patients have expressed understanding at why I’m doing what I’m doing, although I’ve had many people leave the practice because they want to be covered by insurance, which is understandable,” Ciampi said, noting he lost several hundred of his 2,000 patients before the switch.
Dr. Michael Ciampi (Image: Bangor Daily News video screenshot)
“I’m freed up to do what I think is right for the patients,” Ciampi told the 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.”
Just how much do some of these services cost out of pocket? Here's a look at a few:
- Office visit: Ranges from $50 to $100 based on duration of the visit.
- Full physical exam: $150
- Child well exam: $150 and immunizations are generally covered by the state at no extra cost
- Minor surgery: Ranges from $100 to $250 depending on sutures
- EKG: $25
- Pregnancy test: $10
Some doctors are already know to run their practice in a manner similar to Ciampi, and he said he expects more to begin doing so as well as things become more complicated with the current state of insurance under Obamacare.
Patients still have the option to pay Ciampi's charge directly and then go through the process of being reimbursed by their own insurance. It's a process they would have to initiate themselves though.
Aside from the loss of patients, how is Ciampi's practice doing since he made the switch almost two months ago? He told the Daily News he expects it to do just as well if not better:
The new approach will likely attract new patients who are self-employed, lack insurance or have high-deductible plans, he said, because Ciampi has slashed his prices.
“I’ve been able to cut my prices in half because my overhead will be so much less,” he said.
Before, Ciampi charged $160 for an office visit with an existing patient facing one or more complicated health problems. Now, he charges $75.
Patients with an earache or strep throat can spend $300 at their local hospital emergency room, or promptly get an appointment at his office and pay $50, he said.
One of the attractions to patients of the way Ciampi is running his practice now is also time. He said when patients come for an appointment, they see him directly.
“If more doctors were able to do this, that would be real health care reform,” he told the Daily News. “That’s when we’d see the cost of medicine truly go down.”
"Now I work for patients. I don't work for the government and I don't work for insurance companies."
Watch Ciampi discuss his decision to ditch accepting insurance in the Daily News' video here.