Health Care Reform: Goodbye To Doctor-Patient Relationships?

By Cathy Wilson Posted in Health Insurance News



The doctor-patient relationship has already morphed in the last fifties years. Remember those old black and white TV shows from the sixties where the doctor would make house calls and know their patients intimately? Well those days are already long gone. Now the sterile world of the doctor’s office has become more assembly line than friendly. Especially if you’re a Medicare patient or have an HMO.

However, the process could get even more factory-like if health care reform takes a wrong turn. Right now doctors generally allot fifteen minutes per visit but are okay with going a few minutes over to answer any questions or address concerns. If health care reform isn’t presented in the correct way, then doctor’s would be forced to cut visits short in order to keep up the pace of seeing patients.

Why Would This Happen

Medicare is a good example of how government can mess with the doctor-patient relationship. When a doctor signs a Medicare contract they are given only a flat rate for each visit regardless of how long it is or how complex. They are required to see a certain number of medicare patients to maintain their contract. So, if a doctor wants to make any money they will try to get through the Medicare patients as quickly as possible and try to cram more patients into their schedule, giving each patient less and less face time with the doctor.

Good physicians try to avoid this trap at all costs but they still need to make money to keep their practice going. If universal health care forced doctors to see a certain number of patients per day then the assembly-like process would only intensify.

What’s The Remedy

There is no easy fix to this potential problem. The simple fact that medical care has changed is going to change the doctor-patient relationship. As consumers we can be more aware of how to maintain the doctor-patient relationship without straining their resources. Everyone can do their part to ensure that this tradition of really knowing your doctor and your doctor really knowing you, doesn’t fade away.

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One Response to “Health Care Reform: Goodbye To Doctor-Patient Relationships?”

  1. Layton Lang says:

    Cathy,

    How many bankrupt physicians living below the poverty line do you know? Please name one? You write this article as if you are an expert of something.

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