It’s Not Health Insurance!

Detail of "Pilsen Statue" by Tamorlan via Wikimedia Commons, licenced under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 UnportedThere’s been a movement, lately, away from traditional health insurance and toward alternative payment arrangements.  Sometimes these newer systems end up being spoken about as if they are a replacement for health insurance.  Let’s look at a newer system that are gaining popularity: having a doctor on retainer.

Imagine paying your primary care physician on a monthly retainer, and receiving a specific set of health care services in exchange (which typically include all regular physicals.)  Also, your doctor is usually available for same day appointments and is willing to schedule longer appointments with more personalized service.  Sounds nice, doesn’t it?  That’s the attraction of having a doctor on retainer.  There is even an article at USA Today on it.

I think it sounds like it could be a nice system (if you can afford it and want it), especially in concert with a high deductible health plan.  But, it’s important to recognize that this isn’t health insurance.  If you have a catastrophic medical event, you will still have to go to a hospital, and you will have to pay the bill if you don’t have insurance coverage.

So, don’t make the mistake of not knowing what this arrangement would cover, should you make one with your doctor.

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