Prepaid plans at the center of the debate over the delivery of care

January 1, 2008

Imagine this: Your patients pay a fee each month for unlimited access to primary and urgent care services.

Imagine this: Your patients pay a fee each month for unlimited access to primary and urgent care services. That means they pay in advance for such services as office visits, lab work, X-rays and generic medications. Sound like a good plan? It depends on who you ask.

Supporters note that the benefits of prepaid plans can be improved access to care, increased revenue, and reduced administrative issues and costs for primary care practices. Opponents, such as health insurers, fear that these plans will be used in place of broader coverage or that patients will overpay for this type of care.

According to American Health Line (10/22/2007), which cited a Wall Street Journal report, "the debate over prepaid plans highlights 'how the medical establishment remains at odds over the delivery of basic care': health insurers maintain that high medical and prescription drug costs require them to 'police doctors' treatments and rates,' and physicians maintain that the 'hassles of processing insurance claims and referrals means less time with patients.'"