When the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010, proponents promised that we would be able to keep all our existing healthcare plans and providers.
“If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor. Full stop. Period.”
But we now know that wasn’t true by a long shot.
Since then, millions of Americans have been kicked off their plans, and forced to change doctors. Doctors have been separated from their patients as they get excluded from HMO networks in favor of doctors and health care companies willing to work cheaper.
Just last month, for example, hundreds of patients suddenly lost in-network access to their providers at Baptist Health Medical Group.
This announcement came as a shock to those patients, and left them scrambling to find new doctors and specialists.
This is part and parcel of managed care organizations, which rely on networks of low-priced providers to keep prices down.
It’s a race to the bottom, often favoring the lowest bidder and excluding higher-quality providers.
And yet, current health insurance marketplaces are dominated by managed care plans like HMOs, or health maintenance organizations.
In some states, such as Colorado, you have no choice except for an HMO or EPO plan.
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Traditional Health Insurance Models Compromise Patient and Doctor Privacy
With managed care programs and large care organizations, patients have less privacy, since clinical managers often review patient charts to oversee the doctors.
And doctors within these massive organizations cannot always be honest with their patients due to regulations and gag orders that come from regulators and internal compliance managers.
In recent years, we’ve seen doctors disciplined or fired because of the advice they gave to patients – a practice that has a decided chilling effect on other doctors, dissuading them from giving frank advice that differs from the Party line.
Doctors that are not free to speak freely, even about safety issues in their own organizations that could impact patient wellness.
One example of this is the recent California law AB 2098. This ill-considered law slapped a gag order on doctors, putting them at risk of losing their medical licenses if they spread what was considered “misinformation or disinformation” about COVID-19, including its vaccines and treatments.
This law essentially meant that a group of government officials could override the doctor’s professional judgment.
Whatever your beliefs are about COVID-19 treatments and vaccines, this is a very bad precedent to set.
Fortunately, the law has been repealed. But that kind of system brings us dangerously close to a system of healthcare authoritarianism, where the freedoms and liberties of both doctors and patients are stifled – and government bureaucrats substitute their judgment for that of physicians who are face-to-face with their patients.
Government and regulatory boards do not always get things right.
For example, the FDA approved medications such as Darvocet, Thalidomide, Fen Phen, and Vioxx.
It wasn’t regulators that uncovered the problems with these drugs; It was the diligence and observations of frontline doctors that unveiled the catastrophic repercussions of what were once deemed “safe and effective” treatments. Many doctors stopped prescribing these dangerous drugs long before the FDA took them off the market.
The fact is that too much government oversight can throw a wet blanket over new medical discoveries and innovation.
Progress often arises from fresh ideas that might challenge existing beliefs. Preventing the expression of different medical opinions, even if it’s meant to protect public welfare, can seriously impede progress in medical science.
How Health Sharing, HSAs and Direct Primary Care Help Preserve Privacy and Freedom
Minimizing such intrusions and protecting the doctor-patient relationship calls for a restructuring of our current healthcare models.
It is critical to introduce systems that inherently support autonomy, transparency, and a patient-first approach. This is where platforms such as health sharing plans, HSAs, and DPC memberships step into the spotlight.
The key difference is that each of these healthcare delivery models actually let you choose your own provider.
You aren’t limited to the large, bureaucratic organization that the government and your HMO choose for you. You can take your money and your business anywhere… including to small, independent practices and doctors who aren’t beholden to Big Insurance and their internal compliance managers.
Health sharing, HSAs DPCs escape the bureaucracy of large HMO healthcare systems.
Why Use Independent Doctors?
There are many advantages to using an independent doctor. These benefits include:
- Increased privacy and freedom of speech for patient and doctor
- Greater flexibility in wellness and healthcare choices
- Personalized care aligned with personal beliefs
- A deeper, more rewarding and productive doctor-patient relationship.
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Supporting Independent Practices
Health sharing programs support the viability of independent practices by liberating them from the rigid stranglehold of insurance networks and large healthcare systems.
Doctors can practice medicine in a manner that prioritizes patient wellness over systemic compliance.
And patients can choose doctors based on merit, philosophy, and a positive healthcare experience rather than insurance network constraints.
This flexibility often allows patients to seek treatment from alternative sources as well, allowing for a wider range of diversity in their wellness and healthcare provider options.
Removing the obstacles created by big institutions in the relationship between doctors and patients requires a group effort. We need to move towards systems like health sharing, which naturally prioritize personal freedom, community support, and the right to make your own healthcare decisions with all the information you need.
For Further Reading: Why Use Independent Doctors | Medical Cost Sharing: An Affordable and Viable Alternative to Traditional Health Insurance| Complete Guide to Direct Primary Care | Health Sharing for Church Workers and Missionaries
Wiley is President of HSA for America. He believes that consumers should have choice and price transparency, so they can make the best healthcare decisions for their needs. Read more about Wiley on his Bio page.