Published March 29th, 2016 by Stephanie
As health care costs continue to balloon in America with no end in sight, various states are trying out different tactics in an effort to simplify, streamline, and lower the cost of going to the doctor. In particular, one Nebraskan bill is looking to make it easier for patients and physicians to interact by cementing a personal relationship between the two.
The new bill would allow patients to hire a general practitioner’s services by placing him or her on a monthly retainer. In exchange for this money, the patient would have free access to his or her doctor for an unlimited number of visits and a full annual physical.
This system, known as direct primary care, already exists in almost every state of the union, but in all but a handful of states the legality of the practice is left up to insurance and health regulators rather than the law. As such, Nebraska’s bill represents a serious nod in favor of this practice.
However, while direct primary care does eliminate a lot of the red tape which surrounds even the most mundane of clinic visits, the problem is that this sort of constant, personal care demands attention, attention which could have been used to see more patients. That’s a problem considering that general practitioners are in high demand and low supply, and it’s especially bad in rural areas since doctors are often drawn to cities with the promise of higher salaries and more prestige. Since Nebraska is more rural than most states, this means that existing shortages may grow worse.
Still, one point which proponents of the bill make is that it may draw physicians out of retirement and back into active practice. After all, most medical students join the field out of a desire to help others, not to file a ton of paperwork for every last visit and test both for regulations and for insurance claim purposes. By eliminating the worst of it for direct primary care, the physicians who left out of frustration may return to fill this new role, or so the theory goes.
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