I have been around way too long. I remember when my father was in practice (1930’s) and his office visits cost one dollar, a princely sum. Many years later, in 1964, I started in practice after 20 years in the Army. My first office visits as a consulting internist were 7 dollars. The last office visit that I have now heard about is in the 100 dollar range. The increase is not in line with inflation nor any other statistics I am aware of. Rents have gone up, office help is more expensive and supplies and drugs all cost more but to this extent?
The hightest increases have been in the last twenty years and the rise remains extremely sharp. All of the institutions that were designed to lower the cost of medical care have had the opposite effect. Once upon a time we had such niceties as professional courtesy and we were able to treat some of our patients and make compensatory adjustments for those who had a problem paying. The health insurance companies, HMO’s and large medical clinics have all done their part in burying the physician’s expertise with a layer of uniformity.
It seems that every attempt to reign in medical costs has resulted in the just the opposite. The physician and the patient have all been left behind. The outlook for the future does not seem encouraging.