Bonnie Donovan’s op-ed in the March 7 News-Press (“Speak out against Cal Care”) states that for those having private health insurance:
“Many, if not most, have a free choice of doctors, specialists, hospitals and timing of treatments and procedures. Experiences from other government-controlled health care monopolies is that there are cost-control restrictions on these freedoms.”
Actually, the reverse is true.
Under most private health insurance plans, patients do not have a choice of doctors as they are restricted to an often very limited “panel” of doctors who are contracted with the insurance company.
Also, most of the time patients cannot see a specialist without a referral from their primary care provider and often have to get “prior approval” from the insurer. Even then, they are limited to specialists in the “network” approved by the insurer. These same limitations and restrictions also apply to certain diagnostic testing such as CTs or MRIs.
Contrast this to Medicare, the government’s single-payer system, whereby I am able to go to any doctor of my choice, as well as any specialist, with no requirement for special referrals or prior approvals.
True choice of physicians is available only under Medicare, but not private insurance. It should be available for all.
George F. Bajor, M.D.