I may not accept your insurance, but I will always accept you

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Just for the record: I am happy to see you—irrespective of your insurance.

I accept most insurance plans. And if I don’t accept your insurance, I have a very good reason.

I will not sign a contract with a health insurer that:

Abuses and bullies me and/or my patients.

Denies all my first claims.

Reimburses me so little that I may go out of business.

Leverages a $50 penalty against me when my patients accidentally go to out-of-network labs.

Charges me hundreds of dollars of “membership fees” before I’m allowed to see their patients.

Offers me a contract that dictates my responsibility for THEIR legal fees if they determine I did something wrong.

Keeps me on hold and rotating through multiple phone lines while never addressing my concerns.

Treats me like a criminal.

Assigns me patients who have not selected me as their doctor.

Pays me through a complex formula that even a mathematical prodigy can’t understand.

Penalizes me financially if I don’t use the type of computer system that they think I should use.

Penalizes me financially if I don’t electronically submit my prescriptions the way they think I should.

Threatens me and my colleagues every year with all sorts of financial penalties if we don’t do what they (non-physicians) think we should be doing.

Insurance companies have done all of these things to me. My choice to end my relationships with abusive insurance companies will never impact the quality of medical care that you’ll receive from me. I will always care for you even if I do not care for your insurance company.

Just saying.

Pamela Wible, M.D., is a family physician who pioneered the first medical clinic designed by patients. Watch her TEDx talk on ideal medical care. Photo by GeVe.

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Why You Should Love Your Doctor

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Doctors spend their 20s and 30s studying while most of their friends are at parties and enjoying their youth.

Doctors may amass up to 500K debt for the honor of one day caring for you and your family.

Doctors delay childbearing and starting their own families so they can care for your family.

Doctors miss their own kids’ ballet recitals and baseball games so they can care for your kids and family.

Doctors get out of bed and leave their husbands and wives in the middle of the night to care for your sick husband or wife.

Doctors—while “off-duty” and “on vacation”–may save your life on an airplane, in a swimming pool, shopping mall, or car accident.

Doctor suffer with you. They carry your pain home with them.

Doctors may be hazed, bullied, and abused by professors, patients, employers, insurance companies, politicians, and the media, but they keep caring for you and your family.

Doctors are commonly sleep deprived and exhausted. They skip meals and bathroom breaks so they can keep caring for all the people like you and your family who need them.

Doctoring is not a 9 to 5 job. Your doctor may still be thinking about you and your illness while trying to fall asleep at night.

Doctors have PTSD from decades of witnessing trauma.

Doctors have the highest rate of suicide of any profession.

Today, tell your doctor, “I love you.”

The life you save may save you.

Pamela Wible, M.D., is a family physician in Oregon. She offers physician retreats where she helps doctors recover from their abuse so they can get back to caring for their patients. Image by Shutterstock.

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Why I Really Kiss My Patients

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I started kissing patients in med school. And I haven’t stopped.

During my third-year pediatric rotation, I would stay up late at night in the hospital, holding sick and dying children. I’d lift them from their cribs, kiss them, and sing to them, rocking them back and forth until they fell asleep. One day the head of the department pulled me aside. He told me that I was a doctor when my patients needed a doctor and a mother when they needed a mother.

Twenty years later, I’m still mothering my patients.

I’m a family physician born into a family of physicians. My parents warned me not to pursue medicine. They thought big government would kill America’s small-town neighborhood doctor. But I love being a family doctor. And I love my patients. I hug them and kiss them, and I do house calls. And most patients call me Pamela or sweetie or honey. They all have my home phone number. I’m on call 24/7, but I never feel like I’m working.

I guess I’m never really sure when work ends and play begins. It all feels the same to me. Many of my patients are friends. I do their physicals and go to their homes for dinner.

Doctors are warned to maintain a professional distance from patients. But how can I remain distant when I’m looking deep inside people in places nobody has been before? How can I remain detached when delivering a mother’s first baby, saving a sister’s only brother, or helping a child’s favorite grandfather die?

I’ve been told that maintaining a safe distance from patients will help my objectivity, limit favoritism, maintain clear sexual boundaries, and prevent exploitation. But patients today don’t want professional distance; they want professional closeness with a doctor who has a big heart and a great love for people and service.

And I strive to be that kind of doctor.

I’m the kind of doctor who once hired a patient—a massage therapy student—to work on low-income, high-needs psychiatric clients during their medical appointments. All enjoyed free foot baths and hand rubs. Not one had ever received massage; most had never experienced safe, loving touch in their lives. Now they require less medication.

I’m the kind of doctor who believes in favoritism. I want every patient to feel like they’re my favorite. So I celebrate random “Patient Appreciation Days.” Yes, I shower unsuspecting visitors with dark-chocolate hearts and Mylar smiley-faced balloons as they enter the office. This is in addition to the gifts many receive for meeting their health goals. Sitting on the couch next to her balloon, treats piled high in her lap, a woman bursts out, “This is like going to Grandma’s!”

Kids and adults alike enjoy the unexpected attention and gifts. It’s especially exciting for new patients who choose me from a preferred provider list given to them by their health insurance company. After receiving a door prize and an initial hour-long appointment, one gal exclaims, “I feel like I hit the lottery!”

That’s exactly how I feel being a family doctor. Best. Job. Ever.

Doctoring, like mothering, is a subjective experience. Good doctors are interested, friendly, and intuitive. Patients don’t seem to want objective doctors who are impersonal, unemotional, and strictly business.

Doctors, like mothers, should be emotionally intimate. And they should maintain clear sexual boundaries like any good mother does with her child. Maybe doctors should be more motherly.

A few years ago I visited the foster home where my nephew lived before he moved in with me. I spent the weekend with a dozen teenage boys, all on psychiatric medications. An autistic child had moved into the home that day. At nightfall, he begged me to tuck him into bed. That evening I tucked all 12 boys into bed and kissed them goodnight. When the foster mom found out she said, “You crazy. Them boys hasn’t been kissed in years!”

Maybe some patients don’t need a pill. They need a kiss.

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Pamela Wible, M.D., is a family physician in Eugene, Oregon. This essay first published in Huffington Post. Photos by Geve.

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