The City Paper's Christine Buttorff notes that Gov. Bredesen's health care proposal will go to the Legislature this week. I've spoken with several health care professionals about the Governor's plan, and all have reserved judgment until they've seen the details.
Here's one safe bet: If Bredesen's plan incorporates market forces to trim costs, then it stands a chance of being effective. If, however, it continues to shift the financial burden for service from recipients to second or third-party payers, then it will worsen an already bad TennCare system.
On a related note, Dr. Robert Berry wrote a recent "Nashville Eye" column for the Tennessean. He founded a cost for care clinic in Greene County that offers quality service at a reasonable cost.
Bredesen also promises an insurance plan featuring $25 co-payments for "routine doctor visits." This sounds reasonable when one considers the charges — oftentimes as much as $90 — that doctors bill to insurance companies. However, the plan ignores how much producing the billing paperwork for insurance companies inflates health-care costs.
In fact, medical practices that bill insurance cost three times more to operate than cash-for-service clinics such as mine. By cutting out the middleman, cash-only practices can charge less, provide excellent care and still be financially viable.
The Legislature should take Dr. Berry up on the offer of "visiting cash-only clinics" like his as they wrestle with TennCare reforms.