Editor’s note: HALO’S mission includes “promotion and development of concrete life-affirming healthcare alternatives.” This month, we are featuring two unique ways to deliver quality healthcare that is life-affirming and cost-effective for both patients and doctors. Pamela Wible, MD, shares how changing the way she practiced medicine saved her life. And Twila Brace, RN, PHN, explains the Wedge of Health Freedom, an escape route for patients from outsider control over their medical care, and her organization’s plan to establish hospitals that “could include faith-based hospitals free from conscience-violating mandates and the high costs of managed care restrictions and government regulations.” Enjoy!
ESCAPING CORPORATE MEDICINE
HOW MY PATIENTS PREVENTED MY SUICIDE AND STARTED A MEDICAL REVOLUTION
By Pamela Wible, MD
April 1, 2019
April 1, 2019
Today is the anniversary of my suicide survival story—a happy ending to six weeks of unrelenting thoughts of dying when forced to see patients every ten minutes in big-box assembly-line clinics. My lifelong dream of being a trusted, loving family doc doing house calls was gone. I saw no way out.
Until I told my patients I was suicidal.
I begged for their help. I asked them to create an ideal clinic, even write my job description. I promised to do whatever they wanted. My life sucked. I had nothing to lose. I figured we could all escape corporate medicine together. They were game.
Soon more than 100 patients delivered written testimony. I was SO excited to read it all. We adopted 90% of their amazing ideas and just one month later (with no outside funding) we opened the first ideal clinic—designed entirely by patients. Today is our 14-year anniversary of the most beautiful gift a community could ever give me—the ability to be a real doctor.
Now I do house calls. I absolutely adore my patients. And I’ve never turned anyone away for lack of money.
How we did it
My patients have not only helped me, they’ve inspired hundreds of doctors to replicate our community clinic around the world. Check out the 2-minute TV clip at Dr. Wible’s Ideal Clinic on Vimeo.
Here is the transcript of the video.
Pamela Wible says her parents—both physicians—advised her not to follow in their footsteps. She ignored them. But being a doctor was not what she expected. “I remember one day seeing 45 patients.” After six jobs in ten years, all of them in her words “assembly-line medicine,” she ended up in bed seriously depressed. She had an idea—a vision of how she could save other doctors and her career. She decided to host a series of town hall meetings to let patients design her practice. Wible listened and took more than 100 pages of testimony.
Now there’s no receptionist at Dr. Wible’s office, no billing department, not even a nurse.
What do you want when you’re sick? You don’t want to park in a three-story parking garage, and you don’t want to sit in a cafeteria-style waiting room, and you don’t want to talk through bullet-proof glass when you’re sick. And you don’t want to be asked for your credit card and your insurance card and all the things that people are hassled to do when they are not feeling well.
Her overhead expenses have gone from close to 80% to 10% and that means she can afford to spend as much as an hour per visit—making her a better doctor and bringing the joy back into her job.
Wible performs minor surgery in her office and gives patients balloons and other gifts for coming in. And she sometimes barters with her patients for medical care.
“So your practice is so unique that you are exchanging this meal for surgery?”
“This meal and other meals,” Dr. Wible explains.
Wible’s ideas are starting to gain traction.
“I recently opened a clinic called Happy Doc Family Medicine. I wanted to show you around,” says Laura Knudsen, MD.
Dr. Wible is saying she can spend an hour with a patient. How many practices can do that?
She says that is what makes her happy and that’s what makes the patient happy. She says this actually can work. She’s making more money now than she was before and she is doing less work. She saves money by not having any staff. She does her billing using an online system. She says her start-up costs [for her first full year] were only about $3000 to buy the furniture and the equipment. (Actually, I only spent $627 to launch on day one!)
The original article introduces some of the coolest doctors who have just launched ideal clinics. See http://www.idealmedicalcare.org/how-my-patients-prevented-my-suicide/.
Dr. Wible’s incredible bio is available at http://www.idealmedicalcare.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/docs/Pamela-Wible-Bio-2018.pdf.
Reprinted with Dr. Wible’s permission.
THE WEDGE OF HEALTH FREEDOM
Finding an Affordable Doctor Who Works Only for You
By Twila Brase, RN, PHN, president and co-founder, Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom and author of the award-winning book, “Big Brother in the Exam Room: The Dangerous Truth About Electronic Health Records.”
April 29, 2019
April 29, 2019
Americans should not settle for socialized medicine. “Medicare for All” may be on the lips of leftists everywhere, but freedom is what made America great. Freedom is what will keep America great.
The way to maintain freedom for patients and doctors is already here. You may not realize it, but clinics and surgery centers offering affordable, confidential, patient-centered care, free from outsider controls, are sprinkled around the nation. And I’m pleased to say, more are on their way.
These direct-pay clinics accept only cash, check or charge. If you’re insured or covered by a government program, getting reimbursed fully or partially is between you and your medical insurance company.
To encourage this model of care, and to build an escape route from the dangers of socialized medicine for patients and doctors, we established The Wedge of Health Freedom, America’s free-trade zone for medical care.
The Wedge, launched in the summer of 2016, is an online directory of direct-pay practices. There are primary care practices, specialists, even a few doctors that come directly to your home. There is no cost for patients or doctors to join The Wedge. It’s part of our non-profit mission and our plan to protect patients and preserve the affordable, ethical practice of medicine (JOINtheWEDGE.com).
The Wedge brings patients and doctors together in an ethical, trusted relationship at an affordable price. Care is patient-friendly, pocketbook-friendly and privacy-friendly. It’s the way medical care always was before government and prepaid health plans intruded, and it’s the way medical care should always be.
The doctor’s office should be a safe place for patients, a trusted and confidential space. But in too many doctors’ offices today, managed care restrictions, government surveillance systems and federal reporting requirements have led to tight-lipped patients and hands-tied doctors.
This must change.
Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom (CCHF), a non-profit national health freedom organization, launched The Wedge of Health Freedom for two reasons. First, there are doctors and practices operating today that serve their patients free from outsider controls, but most Americans don’t know these affordable, confidential practices exist. Therefore, we wanted to identify these practices and make them visible.
Second, we wanted to establish a nationwide grassroots initiative that would draw the public’s attention to this zone of freedom and free markets, offer these practices as an attractive choice for patients everywhere, encourage doctors to escape into The Wedge, defend the right of “Wedge practices” to operate freely without government interference, and expand The Wedge into an ever-larger slice of the American health care pie—until it’s no longer a wedge, but the entire circle.
The Wedge of Health Freedom has eight simple but important operating principles:
Transparent, affordable pricing
Freedom to choose
True patient privacy
No government reporting
No outside interference
Protected patient-doctor relationship
All patients welcome
The cost savings can be huge for patients and doctors. Because Wedge practices do not sign health plan contracts or participate in government programs—but they open their doors to all patients, including those in Medicare, Medicaid and managed care—they are exempt from more than 132,000 pages of Medicare regulations, more than 20,000 pages of Obamacare regulations, the onerous electronic health record (EHR) mandate and all the attorneys, billers, coders, data reporters, technical staff and administrative managers associated with these and other regulatory burdens. They can charge less because their overhead is less.
Direct-pay examples abound.
In Minnesota, Orono Family Medicine, which calls itself a Direct Primary Care Practice (DPC), sees established patients for $75 per visit. Minor surgeries cost $100 – $400. PATMOS (“pay at the moment of service”) EmergiClinic has thousands of patients in Tennessee, including Medicaid recipients. Surgeon Dr. Kevin Petersen, who runs NoInsuranceSurgery.com in Las Vegas, Nevada offers $5,000 hernia repairs and uses an outside financing company for those who wish to establish payment plans. He notes on his website: “A health insurance company in no way helps a surgeon provide surgery and for that matter helps no physician take care of their patients.” The renowned Surgery Center of Oklahoma puts its cash-only prices online, which are so low that patients come from around the nation, and Canada, for care.
Nearly 400 practices in 44 states and Canada have already joined The Wedge. (JOINtheWEDGE.com) As the number of Wedge practices grows, and more patients seek them, we hope doctors will realize that it’s possible to escape into freedom and restore the joy they’ve lost in today’s bureaucratic system.
Importantly, the Wedge is focused solely on the delivery of medical care, in a direct-pay model. Coverage is entirely separate. The Wedge puts patients and doctors in a direct relationship, with transparent, affordable prices for medical care and no delays or denials. Government and insurers can no longer interfere in private medical decisions.
We envision future establishment of “Wedge hospitals.” These could include faith-based hospitals free from conscience-violating mandates and the high costs of managed care restrictions and government regulations. When this happens, it will be interesting to see how low hospital costs can go once they are free to simply do the work of a hospital and nothing else.
The Wedge of Health Freedom is a nationwide grassroots initiative to restore the heart of health care in America, regardless of what happens in Congress: whether Obamacare is or isn’t repealed, whether America implements socialized medicine, and no matter what happens to Medicare. The Wedge is an alternative, affordable, confidential patient-centered system outside of government regulations and managed care controls.
Invite your doctors to join The Wedge. It may take them two or three years to actually break free from government and insurers, but now is the time to plant the seeds of freedom in their minds.