More On "Simplecare"
December 22, 1999
A small but growing number of doctors are offering their patients discounts on office visits in exchange for payments by cash. The doctors say they save on overhead and their patients benefit by lower costs and savings on low-deductible insurance policies.
- A Seattle physician, Vern Cherewatenko, has established a non-profit association called SimpleCare through which doctors promise to offer their "best price" to cash-paying patients.
- SimpleCare has 200 members in 35 states, serving individuals who decline expensive, low-deductible insurance policies in favor of less expensive policies under which they pay at least the first $1,000 in medical bills out of their own pockets.
- A survey by Hewlitt Associates last year revealed that 7 percent of employers offered high-deductible policies to their employees, up from just 2 percent in 1990 -- a trend which many experts expect will grow.
- Hewlitt estimates that the average American uses $2,400 worth of health care each year.
About 25 percent will file no claims at all in any given year. But 10 percent will have bills of more than $4,000.
Sources: Julie Appleby, "Prescription: Cash Only," and "High Deductible Can Be Answer for Some," USA Today, December 22, 1999.
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