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Family Physicians Find Ways to Treat Uninsured Patients

Posted Sep 14 2011 3:01am
As Secretary-Treasurer 2011-2012 for our state's chapter of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) , I'm a newbie sitting in these past few days on the policy-making body of the AAFP, its Congress of Delegates .  What surprises me is how different we all are.  Academicians vs private practice.  Solo vs group.  Urban vs rural.  Those still providing full range of practice from obstetrics to endoscopy to surgical assist to intensive/critical care vs outpatient only.  And because of our differences, we can be a contentious & ornery bunch because everyone else should see things our way.  Not your way, but my way.  But in the end, we're all family physicians.  We take care of our patients and their families.

So it's no surprise that I picked up a copy of the USA Today two days ago and found an article entitled " Doctors find ways to treat uninsured patients ", which is nice considering the bad press that some of our specialty colleagues have garnered recently.  But if you take time to read the article, it's not about cardiologists & gastroenterologists (all of whom we need) but rather about family physicians stepping up to the plate and helping their patients get the care that they need regardless of their ability to pay.  That's why I'm proud to stand up and say that I'm a family physician.  And I'm damn proud of my AAFP colleagues.  

But we can't expect our family physicians and other primary care colleagues to continue to bend over backwards in a healthcare system that rewards procedures over all else.  I grant you that cognitive skills are necessary to perform said procedures but when the ratio of specialists to primary care physicians becomes too great and we emphasize, incentivize and pay for doing rather than caring, we're setting ourselves up for a disaster (especially with millions of currently uninsured suddenly being added to the number of insured patients without commensurately increasing the number of family physicians and general internists to care for them).  What good is insurance if you still can't find a family physician with an open panel to care for you?

Just in case you know someone who needs medical care but can't afford it, take a look at the " Low Cost Medical/Dental/Pharmacy Options " tab at the top of this page.


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