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Doctor stops taking insurance to lower costs

5:19 PM, May 31, 2013   |    comments
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SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - It's a concept that is being called 'radical' by some in the medical community. But a South Portland family doctor says it's the only way his practice can survive.

Earlier this year, Dr. Michael Ciampi stopped accepting all forms of health insurance. Now patients pay for his services out of pocket. A move which he says has lowered his overhead costs and allows him be more personally involved with their medical care.

Dr. Michael Ciampi grew up watching his father take care of patients. It was a time before insurance co-pays and the majority of the patients paid up front -- sometimes with whatever they had.

'He was taking chicken and eggs as payment, he did, he charged a low reasonable rate and patients paid it,' said Dr. Ciampi

It's a model he is using now for his patients. Earlier this year the family physician stopped taking all forms of health insurance. He informed his more than 2-thousand patients that they would have to pay for his services. The prices are posted in the office and online.

They range from 50 dollars for an office visit to 200 dollars for minor surgery. He says ditching insurance means he can offer discounts to patients struggling financially and make house calls.

'If doctors had more time to talk to patients they can understand what is going with them and that usually means you don't have to order as many tests,' said Dr. Ciampi. 

Another key factor in Dr. Ciampi's decision was Medicaid and Medicare regulations, which are more than 100-thousand pages, the Affordable Care Act known as ObamaCare will add another 20-thousand pages.

'As a small business there is no way we can comply with all of them and stay financially solvent,' said Dr. Ciampi.

His practice did lose several hundred patients when he made the switch. But others, like Benjamin Sawyer, are thrilled to be paying only for a service and not the overhead.

'I think that's great, I come over and get that done. It's a ten dollar blood thinning test that I get once a month, said Sawyer.

Dr. Ciampi's approach to medicine has gone viral on the web and he is also scheduled to appear on several national cable news shows. He says if more doctors were able to do the same the cost of medicine would go down.

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