Can You and Your Doctor Thrive without Medicare and Insurance Plans?

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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.

4 Comments

  1. My plan is to *not* purchase the so-called “insurance” mandated by this new law (Obamacare) just as I have not enrolled in (not “opted into”) Medicare – I turned 65 on 4/6/10. I continue, as I have been for almost 10 years, to be a self-paying client/patient of whichever physician I (and my husband) choose to consult.

    Among the questions Dr Watson poses above for doctors and patients/clients who have opted out of “insurance”, I would like to see ones that address the type of medical consultation/services that a patient/client is seeking. I and my husband (at 65 and 72 respectively), for instance, have no chronic health problems, largely as a result of making use of numerous health degeneration prevention practices. Therefore a physician who does or is quite willing to also use the Internet (email and website) for information exchange and status provision of regularly monitored health parameters for yearly prescription renewals for an agreed on (yearly?) fee is important to me. (Despite our considerable knowledge of human biochemistry, anatomy, physiology and also of a wide variety of life-extension measures, government decreed physician gate-keepers for certain chemicals necessitates the use of physician prescriptions for a few items.) I think that there are others already sufficiently self-responsible to find use of similar Internet health care provision beneficial if (at least) some physicians were willing to include this in their (new) practice without Medicare and insurance plans.

    Along this same line, I recently built upon Dr Richard Amerling’s opinion piece that first appeared at the Cypress Times last month (here at AAPS recently and with my own comment – http://www.aapsonline.org/newsoftheday/00991/), along with some of the reader comments to it, with an article of my own – “Self-Responsibility – The Cure for Healthcare ‘Crisis’ and More” – http://selfsip.org/focus/healthcarecrisiscure.html
    It was picked up by Rational Review today (http://www.rationalreview.com/content/79957) and I hope it will be seen and strongly considered by many.

    Kitty Antonik Wakfer
    Casa Grande Arizona

  2. This is why I have started a hybrid concierge practice in my office. I have a few patients that feel they still want a “private” doctor, not a “PCP”. Don’t know the exact date that I lost the title of doctor and just became the “PCP”??? A provider of the “system”. It is going to get very ugly out there when all the near to retire docs throw in the towel. Who is going to treat the masses for less, same liability and no chance of personal reward. I told my 4 children that “you CANNOT be a doctor”. What a horrible statement of the times!!!!! Is the concierge practice the answer?? Not if people can’t afford to live. Anybody remember USSR? Are we on our way?? Will we see the cannibalism that occurred in what we now call St. Petersburg today? I fear the society is about to implode. I fear for my children and their children.

  3. I need a list of billing vendors whose software bills the patient directly and prints out the clean claim form that will be accepted by CMS and Blue Cross in Texas if mailed by the patient for reimbursement to the patient not the physician. Any comprehensive data base of such?

  4. I personally cannot fathom not having insurance. What happens if you need surgery?
    I had neck surgery in Feb. I was in the hospital overnight and was released around
    noon the next day. The hospital bill alone was $42.000.00 and the doctors I think
    was around $18,000.00. After everything was said and done they got half what they asked for and I only paid about $50 If a person had a heart attack and was in the hospital for any length of time they’d lose everything they had if they weren’t insured unless they had money to burn.

    How can not having insurance possibly work and what am I missing here?

    I am no fan of Obamacare either..

    Sherry from MN