Published in the Orange County Register: December 26, 2013
Who would have imagined that in our America something as basic as our choice of doctor could be in jeopardy? For millions of Americans, that is precisely the case. As of Jan. 1, 2014, many of our sickest patients who have had a long, trusting relationship with a physician will find themselves out on his or her own.
On Nov. 15, 2013, a number of physicians took the time to come together in Washington, D.C. We talked about what we might do to save our profession” and continue to care for our patients. We have decided to invest in a year-long campaign called “Keep your Doctor.” We want to work with you, our patients, to find a way (regardless of what has changed in your insurance plans) to continue your care and to assure you that our doors are open.
We all wanted to fix the system back in 2009. The Affordable Care Act was written to do exactly what it is doing. I spoke out against it from the beginning. Many doctors felt the same way. Doctors find ourselves in the awkward position of trying to save our profession so that we will be available for you in the future.
We are committed to preserving the sanctity of the relationship between patient and physician. This trusted relationship is the core of what is “right” about our American healthcare system. While insurance is important to pay for the care we must purchase, particularly when one suffers an acute illness, every patient needs a doctor to advocate his or her care and navigate the system.
We are committed to patient choice. By building any number of free market opportunities for doctors and for patients that are affordable, more doctors will continue to provide care within the system and patients will have expanded choices for their care.
We are committed to “true” transparency. By encouraging doctors and all providers of care (facilities, vendors, pharmacies) to publish their cash retail prices and by demanding insurers and the government publish their payments for all procedures, patients will be better able to make value based decisions for their health and for their life.
We are committed to protecting all patients’ privacy. The Affordable Care Act demands that patient data be transferred directly to the government. We have already been alerted to the problems with the government website. Patient privacy has been violated on the government site.
We are committed to allow patients to own their insurance. Once a patient purchases a policy, that policy should move with the patient regardless of his or her employment or where they live. That policy cannot be cancelled due to any medical condition.
We are committed to allowing the free market to dictate the healthcare marketplace and we will continue to advocate for this. This will allow for true competition and will bring the cost of care down. The only means of providing affordable care is a transparent market with choices. This would include the expansion of health savings accounts so that patients may spend their own dollars on their health investment. We will have to wait for our legislators to help with new legislation to realize our goal.
Marcy Zwelling-Aamot, M.D., is the vice chair of the American Academy of Private Physicians.