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Access to affordable and quality healthcare is a concern most Americans are grappling with. Families and individuals are still finding it hard to pay for insurance and find the right doctor who can address all of their healthcare needs. The state of medical costs in the US is now at the point where many doctors are writing off insurance altogether by becoming cash only doctors. This concept may scare some patients, but it allows doctors to provide one-on-one care. Here’s what you should know about cash only doctors
What Is A Cash Only Doctor?
Cash only doctors are primary care physicians (PCP) that only accept annual payments or monthly payments for services. These payments cover the costs for most primary care procedures such as labs, physicals, and tests. Patients also receive around-the-clock care to their primary care physicians, which leads to longer appointments, and same-day appointments.
Cash only doctors are different from cash clinics, which bills to your insurance plan but is based on membership fees to provide you with the greatest amount of care. It allows you to pay for services and procedures that are often not covered by insurance.
The average monthly payment for direct pay primary care is $25 to $85. Some doctors offer different memberships for payment. Fees can range anywhere from $30 to $125 per month, depending on the age of the patients. Cash only doctors work in smaller practices than typical practices that see 2,000 to 3,000 patients. This allows for longer doctor visits.
Can Doctors Refuse Your Coverage?
When it comes time to see a primary care doctor or specialist, your choices may be limited by when it comes to down to which doctors who don’t take insurance. One doctor may accept your insurance while the other doesn’t. Some insurance companies refuse to pay doctors the amounts for certain services and procedures. When it happens, the direct pay primary care will refuse that particular coverage as reimbursement.
When the doctor no longer accepts your insurance, then that doctor will no longer accept patients covered under that insurance. You don’t have much choice when a doctor refuses the amount that insurance is willing to pay. This leaves you with no other choice than to choose a doctor who does.
How Much It Typically Costs
There are several factors in which patients can get an estimate of how much a visit to a direct pay primary care or specialist might costs. These costs are usually less than a visit to the emergency room or urgent care. According to the American Medical Association, the average cost for a visit to the primary care doctor was $104 in 2011. It also revealed that the average cost of a cholesterol test was $72 and the average cost of a glucose tolerance test (GTT) was $60.
Why More Doctors Are Choosing Not To Take Insurance
Nowadays, it seems like there are more doctors who don’t take insurance. While patients complain about the rising costs of healthcare, doctors are shying away from the paperwork associated with insurance. They also don’t like a system that requires them to see a high number of patients each day. More primary care physicians and medical professionals are an option for cash only, direct care, or membership methods that allow them to charge monthly fees for visits, procedures, and other services.
These fees are often based on the patient’s age or family size. Some doctor’s offices provide membership fees to employers to help their employees save money. Since cash clinics see fewer patients than traditional primary care physicians, advocates claim it leads to one-on-one care for doctors who want to focus on patients and not on paperwork.
What To Do If Your Doctor Won’t Accept Insurance
Know that you do have options even if you know of doctors who don t take insurance. You still have the option to pay upfront cash for the visit. Make arrangements ahead of time. Ask prior to your appointment if your doctor accepts your insurance. If not, you should ask to make payment arrangements.
Keep in mind that not all doctor’s offices accept cash payments. Next, look for a physician who runs cash clinics. These types of physicians accept cash instead of insurance. Since you’ll be paying them insurance instead of cash, you don’t have to worry about using insurance.
Visit an out-of-network provider even if it costs more. Keep track of your billing statement. Make sure you’re not behind on your payments. Find out what happens next if you have an outstanding balance.
Is It The Right Option For You?
There are many benefits to seeing cash only doctors. One of the biggest benefits of using one is that you’ll have a longer visit. If you pay cash up front, they’ll provide you with more care. They’ll work with you to provide you with the tailored services you need.
Insurance won’t get in the way of your healthcare. If you need to see your doctor for an hour, then you’ll get to see them for an hour. This leads to more flexibility with your appointments. Since a cash only doctor sees fewer patients, they allow you to book an appointment within 24 hours.
They also have greater freedom in how they see their patients. While in-office visits are common, most medical issues can be addressed using telemedicine. You can also communicate with your doctor via text or email to make themselves more available and to save your time.
Patients who have trouble paying their doctor visits and other medical bills should keep other options in mind. Debt consolidation or debt settlement plans can help them manage all of their bills into one simple payment. Patients who are qualified for Medicaid can have all of their doctor visits and additional healthcare costs covered. This federal insurance program is only provided for low-income families and individuals. Eligibility requirements may vary by state.