By George Watson, D.O.
(Note: Dr. Watson spoke at the Salina, KS teaparty last week. Click here to watch a video clip.)
Patients and doctors need to ask: what should a medical practice be like?
For doctors: Would you like more time with your patients; fewer or no insurance company hassles and prior authorizations, and less paperwork? Would you like to determine a fair price for your service, together with your patient? Would you like your daily receipts to equal your daily charges? Would you like to be called “Doctor” rather than “Provider”?
For patients: Is this the kind of doctor you would like to have? And would you like your current doctor to stay in practice? If so, you should ask your doctor to carefully consider this article. It might enable him to be there for you.
Many doctors are now at the fork in the road where I found myself seven years ago. I had completed the certification exam in age-management medicine, and began to offer services that the insurance companies said were “non-covered.” Overhead continued. Receipts went down.
On the verge of bankruptcy, I received a flyer titled “Thrive, Don’t Just Survive,” so I charged my airline ticket and room to my credit card and went to check it out. I heard a family physician tell how the HMO’s turned the screw one more notch and bankrupted half of the family practices in the state. Then he told how he turned the situation around.
He now had joy in serving his patients, and was collecting a fair price at the time of service. I thought, “Sure, a family physician could do that, but it wouldn’t work in any specialty.” Then an orthopedic surgeon and an urologist told similar stories of how they too were really enjoying medicine after they opted out of Medicare and all insurance contracts. I thought, “If they can do it, I can too!”
By God’s Grace, the office I had formerly used was going to be vacated in two months, and the lessee still had lease obligations. The equipment there, which I had sold them when I was called up for Desert Storm in 1991, was going into storage, as the doctor was moving to a newer, better equipped facility. I took over the lease in return for the equipment October 1, 2003, I started over with one employee and no patients. (Like many recent government appointees, I even owed back taxes). I bought supplies and signage with credit cards.
I bought a 10 second co-op ad on the local Fox channel that said, “Imagine, a 5 minute doctor visit for $20!” We handed out flyers to local businesses. I met with business owners, explaining that I was 100% committed to them and their employees, not the insurance companies.
My employee and I painted rooms when we weren’t seeing patients.
Starting from less than zero, I made a profit in month five. A doctor who kept all but 20% of his patients, but cut out insurance overhead and write-offs, could be profitable the very first month. The patients who stayed would be choosing their doctor—not picking an insurance company doctor from a list.
In 2006, I bought out another doctor in Hays, Kansas, which required that I buy a Mooney 201 airplane in 2007. In 2008, I bought a Dexa bone scanner to complement my Thermography service. And this past June, I bought a new Expedition to keep my taxable income as low as possible.
Today some of my patients ask, “How will the new health law affect you? You won’t quit, will you?”
Of course I won’t. My practice is what I dreamed of when I started medical school. I work for my patients—not the insurance company or the government!
Many doctors will not have the courage to change course. But if they continue taking money from third parties, people like the government’s “recovery audit contractors” will stick the fork in them.
Doctors need to take the fork that is—so far—less traveled. And patients need to find such a doctor. Insurers may have intimidated doctors so they believe they can’t survive without signing every contract. The fact is, patients and doctors need each other, but doctors don’t need those contracts.
Both patients and doctors need to declare independence.
Dr. Watson, President of the Association of American Physicians, practiced traditional-insurance-based osteopathic family medicine for 23 years. In 2003, he canceled all insurance contracts and OPTED OUT of Medicare. He continues to work 100% for the patients–not the insurance companies. He has been a member of the Board of Directors of the AAPS since 2006. Dr. Watson is an outspoken advocate for the practice of private medicine, the patient-doctor direct model. He has been interviewed by Fox News Channel and multiple networks. Dr. Watson has spoken at numerous Tea Parties and has recently testified in State of Kansas Senate hearings on amendments to the state constitution to reaffirm the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and an amendment to affirm Health Care Freedom for all Kansans. Additional information on Dr. Watson: Before medical school, George Watson, D.O., was an Air Force officer winning the Husik Trophy in Navigator Training and Air Medal with oak leaf clusters for combat missions in Vietnam in the F-4 Phantom. During medical school, at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, he completed the Air Force Flight Surgeons Course with honors, later serving in the 184th Fighter Group in F-16’s.