Reason Podcast

Meet a Doctor Who Picks Patients Over Insurance Companies: Podcast

Ryan Neuhofel is part of a movement of "direct primary care" physicians who deal directly with patients.


You may know what your co-payment for a doctor's appointment is, but do you have any idea what your caregiver actually charges your insurance company for a routine visit? Almost certainly not, which means the whole system in out of economic whack: Prices encode information and if you don't know what something costs, you can't really make smart decisions.

Dr. Ryan Neuhofel is a maverick physician who is breaking from an insurance-based model and embracing "direct primary care," a growing movement of health care professionals who bypass insurers to provide better and cheaper care to their patients.

In the latest Reason Podcast, Nick Gillespie speaks with the Lawrence, Kansas-based Neuhofel about how doctors are side-stepping the ridiculously byzantine U.S health care system.

Neuhofel, who was featured in a recent Reason TV video, posts the costs of his services directly on his website, which is simpler to read than a Denny's menu. A monthly membership fee that covers most visits costs $55 for most adults, flu shots are free, and X-rays will set you back between $25 and $40. He doesn't accept insurance because when you cut out the middle man (either the government or your health insurance company), the price of routine care plummets from astronomical to reasonable. The presumption that basic health care is too expensive for people to buy without comprehensive insurance policies or government subsidies isn't actually true, at least when it's private citizens purchasing it for themselves.

Gillespie talks with Neuhofel about how the current system is burning out primary care doctors, how market forces drive down costs, and what it will take for medical professionals to finally revolt against our hopelessly complex and bloated system.

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