By Dr. Anthony Cavazos, 52, of Hillsborough
JUNE 25, 2014 – “As a board-certified family practitioner, I’m literally at the front lines of health care. Unfortunately, in the age of managed care, we’re seeing more and more people for less and less reimbursement. What happened with ObamaCare is there are now millions more insured people. Who are they going to see? Me? I only have so many hours in a day.
“Medical schools are churning out fewer primary care physicians. With student loans so high these days, there’s a lack of incentive. People are going to wind up seeing nurse practitioners and physician assistants, who are very capable but not MDs. They don’t have that extra intensity of knowing anatomy, physiology, microbiology, and disease processes. They might treat your hypertension, but what if you have malignant hypertension? What if there’s a nuance? It’s not the same level of care.”
Dr. Anthony Cavazos, a primary care doctor at Care Station in Springfield, also offers anti-aging and esthetic services for patients, priced at $50 to $500, from an office inside Cecil Diaz Hair at The Mendham Spa.
• Cavazos sees some patients in his private office and some in a traditional urgent care setting as he explores also creating a new venture—DoctorC360. The name for the boutique venture, not yet in existence, invokes the doctor’s holistic approach to health care. DoctorC360 patients would carry only catastrophic insurance for hospital visits and major medical events. The rest of their care would be handled by Cavazos to whom they’d directly pay a fee by month or year. In return, they would get same-day visits, longer appointment times, 24/7 access to the doctor, and email and Skype consultations.
“You don’t use your car insurance to get your oil changed. You use it for something major,” he said. “The direct care model uses health insurance the same way.”
• Cavazos’s vision is that C360 patients would pay out of pocket for medications, imaging, tests, and subspecialty visits, all at wholesale rates negotiated by the DoctorC360 staff for its patients.
“My patients would pay $275 or $325 for an MRI instead of the vendor charging an insurance company $1,400 and then collecting $400,” Cavazos said. “They’re all inflated, artificial, bogus numbers, anyway. I want to be transparent.”
A look ahead:
The Affordable Care Act likely will help facilitate the growth of the Direct Primary Care movement, including boutique practices such as DoctorC360, according to Cavazos. He cites as an example the national stir created by Dr. Keith Smith’s cash-only Surgery Center of Oklahoma, founded in 1997. According to media reports, an arthroscopic hip surgery there costs $5,575 and a mastectomy, $5,500.
“The insurance monster has just gotten bigger and bigger,” Cavazos said. “It destroyed the relationship between doctor and patient.”