A local small-town family physician retired a few years ago to the dismay of many of his regular patients. He was well-beloved and respected for his down-to-earth manner and obvious care for those who sought his expertise and treatment.
Retirement soon proved a bore. He missed seeing patients; but he didn't miss the paperwork, files, insurance claims, billings, and all the rest.
A dilemma. Should he come out of retirement, and put up with all the hassles? Or should he contiune to miss doing what he loved most—helping people?
He presented himself to a local industrial plant of nearly 2,000 employees with an offer. He would come to the plant two afternoons a week and see anyone who wished to see him. He would educate, diagnose, prescribe, and treat. He would refer to specialists if needed. He would order lab work if needed. He would NOT do paperwork, claims forms, billing, etc.
The "patients" would not pay a single dime for his services (but any drugs, lab work, specialist visits, etc., was out of their insurance or pocket.) Rather, the plant would pay him by the hour; and that hourly rate would be just high enough to cover the cost of his malpractice insurance and keeping his license to practice current.
Well, did it work?
It was ideal! Employees who would otherwise stay home from work to see a doctor came to their job and saw him. Those who would otherwise come in sick and hope to get better, saw him. Those who typically put off seeing a doctor unless they were at death's door saw him. The result was early detection and intervention, and a lot fewer sick days.
The doctor decided he was having so much fun that two afternoons a week were not enough. So he approached my little plant to see if we could use him one afternoon a week for a few hours.
He came for the first time on Wednesday. We only announced his impending visit on the day before, and had no idea if anyone would come to see him or not. We asked him to stay for two hours and see who showed up.
He ended up staying for four hours and saw 20 people! He arranged for follow-up visits for a few with high blood pressure. He diagnosed incipient bronchitis and prescribed an antibiotic. He told one man that his painful, swollen finger was not broken, just bruised . . . And the stories are still coming in.
When he left, he exclaimed, "Damn, that was fun!"
He'll be back each Wednesday afternoon for the rest of October, and then we'll re-evaluate how often he needs to come.
Since our health insurance is self-funded (meaning the company pays the claims, up to a limit), I figure we're saving on insurance claims. Employees are saving the co-pay for an office visit. Convenience and low cost (free!) mean employees will see the doctor before they get so sick they miss work.
Gee, is there a down side here that I'm missing?