Friday, September 11, 2009
Do you bargain with your doctor?
Back in the old days, patients used to pay their physicians with crops, knitted blankets, and animal meat. Of course, we now have supermarkets and Walmart, so physicians are expecting cash for their services. Some patients still bring gifts (like fruit and vegetables from their gardens) to their physicians, but I don't think that most patients are bargaining for their healthcare services (unless they lack health insurance and they're paying with cash).
What if that evolved? As we prepare for healthcare reform, maybe bargaining skills will be one of the main components of reforming healthcare costs. What if more patients start bargaining with their physicians? Some are doing that right now because people would rather get paid something (even if it's less) over nothing. What if physicians start offering sales and specials for certain services? (get two physical exams for the price of one!)
Physicians can only control so much when it comes to price. The prices for labs and other diagnostic tests are generally not controlled by physicians. Maybe we'll start seeing some special deals (20% off your CT scan this month!) in the hospitals.