A Physician’s New Reality: Patients Ask Me to Break the Law
I can hear the complaints from you guys already -- I become the bad guy. “Why don’t you just take care of the problem, and not bill out any different code? You’re a rich doctor, and we are entitled to free stuff.”
It doesn't work that way. First, doctors are not rich and, like most of you, actually work terribly hard for a living. Second, Obamacare is the law -- and as I said earlier, we are audited all the time now.
Also -- I don’t ask for free gas when I go to the gas station, or ask for free food from the supermarket. Additionally, Obamacare has a 23% cut in Medicare reimbursement to doctors and hospitals.
These lower payments won’t cover the cost of staying in practice to take care of the patient.
Private doctors are becoming a thing of the past. By 2014, less than 25% of physicians will be in private medicine. Obama was right in stating you can keep your doctor if you want to -- the problem is he or she will rarely be available.
On top of all of that, doctors will be obligated -- that's right, obligated -- to talk to you about things you may have no interest or need to talk about.
You may just want to have a pap smear or check your cholesterol. However, I am now mandated by the government to talk to you about your weight, exercise, family life, smoking, sexual abuse(!), and even to ask if you wear seat belts. And I am mandated to record your answers.
I am a physician. But I need to tell you to wear a seat belt and then record your answer.
I have received interesting responses from my patients since I put up the notice. Almost all are supportive and totally understand. The very few who complain? The same patients who always ask for free samples, who always complain that we do not validate parking. These are also the same patients who call my office and ask for free samples even when they are not even being seen.
Obamacare and its 2,000-plus pages are here to stay. I will still give my patients 100% of my time, energy, and knowledge. I still love being a doctor -- my patients’ doctor. I will, however, abide by the law and follow it to the letter. I will have to learn this new dance. “Free” has its price.
Also read: You Break It, You Buy It