By Twila Brase
The way back to health freedom, and out of government-regulated health care, is already here. You may not realize it, but there are doctor’s offices and surgical centers sprinkled around the nation that offer affordable, confidential, and patient-centered care, free from outsider controls. And, I’m pleased to say, more are on their way.
Welcome to The Wedge of Health Freedom, America’s free-trade zone for health care.
The Wedge is where patients and doctors come together in an ethical, trusted relationship at an affordable price. In The Wedge, care is patient friendly, pocketbook friendly, and privacy friendly. It’s the way health care always was before government and corporate-managed care plans intruded, and the way health care should always be.
Medicine has always been a mission, stemming back to the compassionate healing ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ Who amazingly came not to be served, but to serve. But Congress has sold out to managed- care corporations, granting them exclusive privileges to run Medicare, Medicaid, and now the Affordable Care Act. The health care marketplace has become a bureaucracy run by a cartel instead of a free market that allows people to serve one another by exchanging goods and services
This is disastrous for patients who need care, and morally devastating for physicians committed to serving the patient. When physicians face penalties for individualizing patient care or refusing to comply with one-size-fits-all treatment protocols embedded in the health care system’s computer, a dangerous conflict of interest has developed. The doctor is no longer working for the customer: the patient.
The doctor’s office should be a safe place for patients—a secure sanctuary—where patients know that doctors are focused solely on their good and where patients know that their most embarrassing confessions will be held in confidence. But in too many doctors’ offices today, managed-care restrictions, government surveillance systems, and federal reporting requirements have led to tight-lipped patients and hands-tied doctors.
It’s time for freedom.
Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom (CCHF), a non-profit national health freedom organization, launched The Wedge of Health Freedom for two reasons. First, we know there are doctors and practices operating today that serve their patients freely because their hands are not tied by contracts with insurers and government agencies. But most Americans don’t know these affordable practices exist—sometimes right in their own backyards. Therefore, CCHF wanted to identify and make visible the free-trade zone for health care that exists today. We’ve branded it “The Wedge of Health Freedom.”
Second, we wanted to establish a nationwide grassroots movement that would draw the public’s attention to this zone (“The Wedge”), offer these practices as an attractive choice for patients everywhere, encourage doctors to escape into The Wedge, defend the right of “Wedge practices” to operate freely without government interference, and expand The Wedge into an ever-larger slice of the American health care pie—until it’s no longer a wedge, but the entire circle.
‘Wedge practices’ for health freedom
The Wedge of Health Freedom has eight simple but important principles for “Wedge practices”:
- Transparent, affordable pricing
- Freedom to choose
- True patient privacy
- No government reporting
- No outside interference
- Cash-based pricing
- Protected patient-doctor relationship
- All patients welcome
The cost savings can be huge for patients and doctors. Because Wedge practices do not sign managed- care contracts or participate in government programs—but they open their doors to all patients, including those in Medicare, Medicaid and managed care—they are exempt from more than 132,000 pages of Medicare regulations, more than 20,000 pages of Obamacare regulations, the onerous electronic health record (EHR) mandate and all the attorneys, billers, coders, data reporters, technical staff, and administrative managers associated with these and other regulatory burdens. These cash-based Wedge practices are free from third-party payer controls and costs, and the savings and extra face-time with the doctor are passed on to the patient.
PATMOS (“pay at the moment of service”) EmergiClinic, started and run by Samaritan Ministries member Dr. Robert Berry, has thousands of patients in Tennessee. They all pay cash, check, or charge, even those on Medicaid.
Using surgeon Dr. Kevin Petersen’s NoInsuranceSurgery.com, patients head to Las Vegas, Nevada, from every corner of the country. Petersen, whose services include $5,000 hernia repairs, uses an outside financing company for those who wish to establish payment plans. He notes on his website: “A health insurance company in no way helps a surgeon provide surgery and for that matter helps no physician take care of their patients.”
For age-based monthly fees, AtlasMD in Kansas offers unlimited access to physicians, same-day scheduling, certain diagnostics and procedures at no extra cost, and wholesale lab and medication costs.
In Massachusetts, Gold Direct Care charges monthly age-based fees and offers discounted lab tests, medications, and more.
The Wedge is growing
More than 145 practices have already joined The Wedge. Patients can use the “Find a Practice” tool on the website to locate doctors who will work for them—and only them. As the numbers of Wedge practices grows, and the number of patients seeking them expands, more doctors will realize that it really is possible to find freedom and restore joy.
For instance, meet Dr. Brenda Arnett, M.D. She runs a cash-based Wedge practice in Virginia. Ten years ago, she left the bureaucratic model that didn’t allow her time to sufficiently care for her patients. She says she’s slept better ever since. Her patients, including nearly 200 Medicare recipients, pay by cash, check, or charge. She typically spends 45 minutes with each patient, makes house calls, and oversees her patients’ care at the hospital.
Dr. Ashley Maltz, M.D., an integrative medicine physician, posted the following about her cash-based practice at KevinMD.com earlier this year: “I had to leave the comfortable confines of my salaried practice in order to become the doctor I’d always dreamed of being. The doctor who is centered, grounded, and wise. The doctor who gets to spend however much time she/he needs with a patient in order to get to the root cause of health issues …”
The Wedge also addresses a significant problem in health care today: the disconnect between who receives care and who pays the bill. Patients who don’t pay their own bills are insulated from costs, which adds expensive, unnecessary bureaucratic third-party payer processes to the cost of care, and allows insurers to interfere in medical decisions and deny payment. The Wedge puts patients and doctors in a direct relationship, with transparent, affordable prices and no delays or denials.
This is how the practice of medicine used to be. The Wedge will take health care “back to the future.” Back to a time when medical bills were manageable, health insurance was rarely used (and affordable), and the patient-doctor relationship really was a relationship.
All patients need a trusted doctor in their corner—a doctor dedicated to protecting and caring for them when they cannot protect and care for themselves. The Wedge is for everyone, including the insured, the uninsured and the publicly subsidized. When a health plan or the government says no, even the “covered” may need a doctor who says yes.
All patients need a trusted doctor in their corner—a doctor dedicated to protecting and caring for them. Invite your doctors to join the Wedge.
Some of the supportive comments we’ve heard since our June 28 launch at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., include:
“I love it. My boss will love it.” (Congressional staffer, D.C.)
“What you’re doing will help everyone in the country.” (physician, PA)
“Is this available in the state of Texas?” (citizen, TX)
Who can be in The Wedge?
Wedge practices can include physician offices, surgical centers, dental practices, and others. However, due to a federal law, chiropractors and independently practicing physical therapists and occupational therapists cannot opt out of Medicare and are prohibited from engaging in private contracts with their patients. That was a surprise discovery—and a law that should be repealed.
We also envision the establishment of “Wedge hospitals.” These could include faith-based hospitals free from conscience-violating mandates and the high costs of managed care restrictions and government regulations. It will be interesting to see how low hospital costs can go if they are free to simply do the work of a hospital and nothing else.
The Wedge of Health Freedom is a nationwide grassroots campaign to restore the heart of health care in America, regardless of whether the “Affordable” Care Act is or isn’t repealed, and no matter what happens to Medicare. The Wedge is an alternative, affordable patient-centered system outside of government regulations and managed care controls.
Invite your doctors to join the Wedge. It may take them two or three years to actually break free, but the time to start showing them it’s not only possible but a good idea is now. As a grassroots campaign, we’re counting on patients and doctors everywhere to promote and expand The Wedge of Health Freedom. Go to www.JOINtheWEDGE.com for resources to share with your doctors.
Samaritan Ministries member Twila Brase is the President of Citizens Council for Health Freedom. Her “Health Freedom Minute” is heard on 400 radio stations. Her efforts have led to successful lawsuits against illegal state storage, use, and dissemination of newborn DNA.
Read about direct care practices run by Samaritan Ministries members at samaritanministries.org/dpc.