by The Patient
Over 25 years ago a friend recommended a doctor to me. The doctor had a private practice and his office was nearby. Best of all, he favored “preventive and natural medicine”, important to me as I seem to be allergic to half the substances known to mankind. Foods, chemicals, dyes, you name it, I’m allergic.
I appreciated he was a small business owner, being one myself. I didn’t have insurance, because one month of insurance cost more than I usually spent in three years at the doctor. (Even 25 years ago, policies for one person were extremely expensive.)
So I went to see Doctor Tim. He was a great guy, very helpful, very respectful. Afterwards, the gal at the front desk printed out a bill for $80. As I was writing my check, Doctor Tim came up, took the bill, drew a line across it, and wrote in “$60.00”.
I was floored. “Look, he said, “ If we bill an insurance company, it takes an incredible amount of our time, energy and money. Insurance companies don’t pay the full amount of the bill, and it takes a long time for us to be paid. People who pay in the moment deserve to pay less, it’s still better for us.”
“Wow, thanks!” I replied.
Years later, Doc Tim joined a big medical business in my metro area, in charge of one of their offices. At that big business, still uninsured, I had to pay full price. Then one day the front desk clerk said, “If you’re paying today, self-insured, there’s 20 percent off your bill.” Amazing.
Next time I told Doc Tim, “Great news on the 20 percent off!” He said, “Let me tell you a story about that.
“I went to meetings for two years, saying that I thought our self-insured customers deserved this. People finally agreed. But the computer guys said they had to change the system to accommodate it. Next meeting, same conversation.
“Finally, after two years, I sent a bill out front with the instructions, ‘Take 20 percent off, patient is self-pay.” The front desk did just that. Soon my phone lit up with the billing department, ‘Why did you do this?’
“I told them I did it because they’d been talking about it for years, plenty of time to get it done, and I was going to continue. Within *one month*, the 20 percent off was in the computers, system-wide, for all our locations.”
Needless to say, my jaw dropped. One person, one conviction to do what was right, thousands of patients paying a more “fair” rate, probably still more money than insurance companies paid. Imagine how many people, how many families that would help over the years.
It’s probably been 10 years. I still don’t see the doctor often. But when I do, there’s 20 percent off my bill. On my behalf, and the thousands of people who don’t know the story: Thank you, Doctor Tim.