Why is the Medical Equivalent of “Pro Bono” Work a Crime?

December 27th, 2003

To the Editor,

It is understandable that insurers would have deductibles and co-payments to offset the full burden of medical costs for insured parties. They are, after all, in business to make a profit and are basically gambling on the fact that premiums from their healthier clients will cover costs engendered by their sick clients. This is a very risky business in a society that has rates of chronic illness and disability of around 20% for adults between 16 and 64 years of age. Add to that, the numbers of sick children and medically compromised senior citizens and the story of American health becomes better suited to a Stephen King tale of horror.

However, to arrange for co-pays and deductibles at levels intended to assure that the sick will be unable to access needed medical services, is despicable. Physicians who are decent enough to waive co-pays or forgive deductibles so patients can receive the same quality services and specialist care as wealthier Americans, must not be considered fraud. Those doctors are not depriving an insurer of legitimate cost savings, only refusing to participate in insurers’ best efforts to ‘hedge their bets’ by manipulating those engaged in free enterprise. Medicine is still a free enterprise under our system of economics and should not be required to take fees intended to impoverish managed care participants. Leaving them just enough money of course to pay those premiums…

Barbara Rubin

Categories: NY Times

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