“Patients would just as soon pay a fee, rather than hassle with all the paperwork,” said Dan Durrie. Better still, all his employees are all now focused on patient care. “None of them are on the phone talking to insurance companies or billing or trying to fill out this form for the third time to get it all right,” he added. “I do think we’re going to see a lot more private pay in healthcare coming in.”
For all the promise of fee-based service, Kunz affirmed the caveat that, save for certain procedures, usually paid out of pocket, patients do not now have the freedom to price shop. In general, patients “move because a doctor told them to go there, or they’re directed to go there, or the insurance company tells them to go there,” said Kunz.
The question was raised as to whether there is anything the independent practice groups can do to encourage healthier lifestyles.
“If we could get control of kids’ weights,” said Dr. Allen, “our healthcare bills would plummet.” As he explained, America is seeing an explosion of Type 2 Diabetes and the health problems it spawns. “We have to get back there and get our young kids healthy and start thinking healthy, not having such a ridiculous amount of obesity in this country,” he added.
“There are some things that can be done at an early age,” agreed Dr. Durrie. “Maybe as a physician group we need to endorse that as a community and bring the level up.” Durrie was particularly interested in exploring what could be done locally. “What can we do here? What can physicians do here? What can hospitals do here?” he asked. “I think that getting groups of people together is probably a good start.”
One obvious problem was that there appears to be no agreed-upon mechanism for addressing community health issues like this. “If there were a sponsor, I think we would all come,” said Durrie. “But somebody has to provide a forum.” He thanked Ingram’s for providing this initial opportunity and wondered whether the Kauffman Foundation or the business community might not provide a systematic platform for reform.
“Maybe at Ingram’s, you guys, as a media vehicle could organize something with us to reach out to the business owners?” seconded Mirabile.
Hennessy noted that previous efforts to drum up public support on public health initiatives had been noticeably “physician-light.” For such an effort to succeed, he thought it essential to involve the physician community.
Durrie agreed. “Almost everything going on in this community that has to do with life sciences and biosciences has very few physicians involved,” he noted. “It doesn’t come up on people’s radar screens to invite the physicians.”
Colyer saw the need for “getting the seed out there” in the business community. “They feel it,” he ad-ded, “You’ve got to get everybody to buy in.”
“The people who are the big players are the people paying the bills,” Durrie agreed. He was referring specifically to the government and the employers. “They should
be really concerned about this overall issue,” he noted.
“As a business owner, I’m really feeling it,” Durrie added in a sentiment with which most readers of this magazine will agree. “My healthcare costs are going through the roof.”