FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Do you want the best possible medical care? Do you want to choose your doctor and pick your procedures? Insurance companies might not offer you those benefits, but you could turn to "Boutique Medicine" -- a new groundbreaking trend.
Jack Harris needed something to ease his shoulder and arm pain. A fusion would limit his mobility. But an artificial disc replacement seemed like a good solution. The catch, his insurance wouldn't pay for the $29,000 procedure, so Harris used his own retirement savings.
"The money I worked so hard for, worked so hard to save for my health, and you know some people; they can't make that decision, and at least I could, and I chose health, and I chose to have the surgery done," Harris told ABC30.
Harris' doctor allowed him to pay directly for the medical service he needed. It's an approach known as "Boutique Medicine." In some cases, it cuts the insurance company out of the medical equation.
Scott Blumenthal, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon of Texas Back Institute in Dallas told ABC30, "Well, to the extent that they try to interfere with the patient/physician relationship and the practice of medicine, yes."
Proponents of "Boutique Medicine" say it gives patients more choices in their care and allows for more time with doctors. The downside, some worry too many physicians will turn to this type of practice, which will add to the doctor shortage and it can be expensive depending on the service.
"For lack of a better term, it has a certain snob appeal, that I can go to the doctor I want, not to the doctor the insurance company tells me I have to go to," Dr. Blumenthal explained.
Harris said, "You're looked after like you're the most special person on the planet."
For Harris, it was well worth the cost.
"Just being able to engage in life and to not be consumed with pain," Harris told ABC30.
A leader of the American Academy of Private Physicians estimates as many as 5,000 doctors nationwide have direct primary care practices, charging fees of $600 to several thousand dollars. And by the way, Harris says he appealed his insurance company's decision and they did reimburse him a significant portion of the expenses for his artificial disc replacement surgery.
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Boutique Medicine: Pay-as-you-go health care?
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