As a solo physician, insurers give you a contract that you can't survive on. Solo physicians will have maybe 5,000 insured patients. So we don't have any power with insurers to negotiate our rates. But if you join a large group practice with 100,000 insured patients, then insurers become very interested in negotiating with you.
I joined and later took over a solo practice in South Florida. Over the past 10 years, I've lost $3 million because of poor reimbursement rates that I got from managed care companies. Many times I wouldn't even get paid. But I didn't stop seeing patients, and the situation only became worse and worse.
I did everything I could to keep revenue coming in. I had eight employees and all of my business expenses. I took up ancillary work to subsidize my practice. I became trained in alternative medicine. A friend of mine, a cardiologist, let primary care doctors rent equipment that's used for stress tests. So I started to do stress tests for patients every other Monday to get another means of reimbursement. I started to offer aesthetic and cosmetic medicine.
I eventually lost my home, lost a $1 million office building and shut down my practice in 2009. I was fortunate to find doctors for my 4,900 patients.
A few weeks ago, I accepted a permanent position at a large multi-practice group in North Carolina. I'm still $250,000 in debt from my practice. When I left the area in South Florida, I may have been the last solo practice left there.
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