Thursday, April 24, 2014

A New Frontier for Doctors?

You know those coupon circulars that arrive in the mail once or twice a week?  Most of the time I recycle them, but occasionally I read through them.  Sometimes I find coupons for things I use and can save a little money.  Recently, I was reading through one of those circulars and found a surprising ad:

This is the first ad I've seen done by doctors for their practice.  My first thought was: these doctors need to advertise?  Hmmmmm....  Then I remembered that doctors, as well as all sorts of service providers, have advertised in the Yellow Pages for many, many years.  With the invasion of cell phones into our lives, printed phone directories have become a thing of the past.  So perhaps print ads in coupon circulars shouldn't be such a surprise.

I remember when lawyers first began to advertise their services back in the 1980's.  It caused quite a controversy, not only among the general public but especially among lawyers.  The Bar Association drew up guidelines for its members.  Now, seeing print or TV ads for lawyers hardly provokes a second look.

What caught my close attention about the Southdale Internal Medicine ad was this sentence: "We offer affordable care plans perfect for people who want complete control over their health care, people with no insurance or high deductibles."  Wow.  Is this how doctors are going to respond to the insurance companies' behavior under the Affordable Care Act?

It should be no secret now that not all insurance companies are participating in the online exchanges, i.e. in the ACA.  Those who are have shrewdly priced their plans to target specific customers, e.g. the young and healthy, or truly anyone.  It is NOT really a level playing field, as I believe President Obama had wanted with the implementation of the ACA, and those responsible are not the politicians but the insurers.  Do you think the politicians have figured that out yet?

The people who are impacted negatively by all this are the people the ACA was meant to serve: the uninsured, the under-insured, and those of us paying through our noses in order to obtain coverage.  Clearly, the insurers have found a way to still stack the system in their favor.

Is it any surprise, then, that these doctors at the Southdale Internal Medicine clinic have decided to offer people an alternative?

What do you think about doctors advertising for patients?  Are you for it or against it?  Would you go to a doctor in response to an ad?  Please write your thoughts in the comment section below. 

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