How do you value yourself?
So when you're running your own practice, and you're starting up, what do you do when someone comes to you in a supposed "bind" because they don't have a job or no insurance and they want to get a freebee from you? It's hard, because the resident in you may want to reach out with your heart and help this poor soul, but the growing businessman or woman in you knows that you need income to exist and provide valuable medical services to all of your patients. After all, if you don't value yourself, your patients won't either. Where does it end? Next thing you know, you're running a free clinic and have no cash to put a roof over your head. The problem is that with the onslought of the insurance-run world, people have come to believe that medical care is their right. Perhaps it is, but it's then up to the government to come up with universal healthcare for anyone who can't afford their own. Every other service business charges fees for its services which are standard and accepted, and in many instances (like in the case of lawyers) way higher than any private medical office fees.
What prompted this post is a patient I have never met asking me for free medical care and a prescription, without being an established patient in my practice. This patient wanted to get a freebee because they did not currently have health insurance or a job. My belief is that one's health is an investment. And that the service I provide, which goes beyond the single-problem single-solution type of Western medicine, as I like to address the whole individual, has far greater value than any price tag I can attach to it. However, I do help people out with discounted rates if they are insurance-less and have low or no-income. I believe in being fair, but I do not believe in giving out free medical care in the setting of my private practice (unless it is an emergency in dire circumstances), because often I've seen these very same people that are asking for free medical care going for facials, botox, hair-coloring, or carrying the latest ipod. I believe that if they can allocate finances for non-essentials, they can pay for a visit and in so doing show appreciation for the energy-exchange that has occurred to benefit their health. Even if it's only a small charge, if you give away your professional services, you're telling the world you don't value yourself, and in return you won't attract value to yourself. Perhaps my readers may have differing opinions? If so, do share.
Why do I think this way. Because I believe that if you do not value yourself, others won't value you, and you are bringing scarcity into your universe. The world has decided to operate with money. It is an energy interchange for services rendered. This was the way medical care was provided in the middle of the last century -- fee-for-service. I'm not saying everyone should have to pay for the their medical care, but having a person be directly involved (financially) in their medical care is a greater incentive for them to follow recommendations and improve their health. This is the reason that insurance plans came up with the concept of a copay, so that individuals would have a vested interest in their own care and their access to care. If along with a discounted rate, you can give the patient a bunch of samples, right there you've saved them a tremendous amount of money.
What people haven't realized is that physicians aren't necessarily the costliest part of medical care. It's prescription medications, monthly health plan premiums, and the waiting until a problem is too big to deal as an outpatient that the person has to undergo a costly hospitalization. In some ways those expensive monthly premiums are not insurance -- they are PRE-PAYMENT for health services. Perhaps if we started focusing on PREVENTIVE and PROACTIVE health care, the overall cost of providing care would go down.
Again, I believe one's health is an INVESTMENT. Exchanging something of value ($ or in the case of my country doctor grandfather in the middle of the last century, it may have been a chicken) for care is merely how the world works. Don't ask me for a freebee. It shows me that you do not value yourself nor me. Otherwise, when I don't have to worry about supporting my family and paying a mortgage and costly business expenses created by the medical-legal-insurance complex (i.e. malpractice insurance and a biller to chase after all of those forgotten, underpayed or incorrectly denied claims), along with the rising cost of living, I'll go do charity work in Africa or volunteer at a free clinic downtown. In the meantime, please value yourselves!