Saturday, July 2, 2016

Do You Accept My Insurance?

That’s the most stressful sentence a hotel doctor hears – more than “I’m having chest pain” or “my mother stopped breathing.”

American insurers look with deep suspicion on housecalls, and no hotel doctor wants to bill them. But almost no American has experience handing money directly to a doctor – and a housecall costs a good deal more than an office visit. Many of these guests agree to pay, but I often sense their discomfort. Other doctors are not so picky, but if they sound too reluctant I inform them of local walk-in clinics.

Foreign insurers are different. Many call me directly. Resigned to our rapacious medical system, they expect immense bills. I charge everyone the same, but I’ve been contacted by doctor-entrepreneurs who offer triple my usual fee to make their hotel calls in Los Angeles. They can afford this, they assure me, because they charge several thousand dollars for a housecall. This sounds creepy, but it apparently works because I’ve heard from these doctors more than once. 

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