Could you pay thousands just to see your doctor? - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Could you pay thousands just to see your doctor?

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TOLEDO, Ohio - The 13abc I-Team is investigating the "new" cost of health care.  Some people are now paying thousands of dollars just for the chance to see their doctor.

It's all part of the program to become a VIP, an MDVIP.  It's like getting perks, but not at a nightclub or sporting event, this is for your health. It is going to cost you.  The question is how much is your health worth?

“It looked like a good program and I thought I would follow with him," said patient John Granata. 

Granata is an MDVIP and followed his doctor, Allen Markowicz as he became an MDVIP practice.
 
"One of the attractions of doing this kind of practice for me is to get back to that very close patient doctor relationship," said Dr. Markowicz.   

That relationship does come with a price tag.  Granata pays a fee to be part of the practice.  That's in addition to any co-pays or items insurance doesn't cover.

“At any given time, no matter where I'm at I can reach him and he can respond to my needs.  He knows my health better than anyone and my issues." said Granata.

“It's just another health care option that people have just like there are different levels of health care insurance," said Dr. Markowicz. 

But not everyone is on board with this option, including Barb Hubbell. 

“I was just shocked when I got the letter.  I didn't expect anything like that," said Hubbell.

Hubbell sees another Toledo area doctor who's just about to join MDVIP.

“$1650 every year," said Hubbell.  “If I'm going to spend $1650, I'd like to go on a nice vacation." 

 You heard right!  Her letter says the yearly fee from her doctor to become an MDVIP is $1650.

“I would get service but I guess I am glad I'm as old as I am  because I remember a simpler time when you just went to the doctor's and paid the doctor's bill and off you went," said Hubbell.

Dr. Markowicz explains what that money gets you, if you can swing it. 

“I am not sure I'd use the word exclusivity.  The fee is for the battery of tests that are preventive, the early diagnostic and screening tests that aren't necessarily covered by insurance but yeah this is national trend," said Dr. Markowicz. 

MDVIP has been around since 2000.  But with the Affordable Care Act coming online and everyone getting access to insurance, that will mean more doctor visits across the nation which could mean longer wait times, and shorter time with the doctor.  At an MDVIP practice, they promise 30-60 minute visits.

But the I-Team wanted to know, ethically and practically what happens if a patient really wants to see Dr. Markowicz but cannot afford the fee? 

“There are other doctors within the system here, across the hall that they can see but really I wasn't taking new patients for a number of years before this.  So that isn't much different now if someone wants to join MDVIP and wants to make that commitment," said Dr. Markowicz.    "I wanted the patients to commit to their wellness and health and for me to commit to their wellness and health."

“There is no downside to this for me,” added Granata.  “It's the cost of a Starbucks a day." 

“I guess you better change with the times because I don't think we have any choice in the matter," Hubbell.

Her choice is to pay or find a new doctor.  Hubbell has decided for her health and her situation that MDVIP is not for her.

“My feeling is that I'm going to find another doctor, as sad as that makes me," said Hubbell. 

The I-Team is told Hubbell’s doctor is nearly at the maximum of patients and ready to start a waiting list.  There are 19 MDVIP doctors in all of Ohio.

One of the big questions now is what happens if more and more doctors charge a fee to get in and people can't afford it.  How will people get the care they are supposed to get through the Affordable Care Act?  That is something that can’t be answered yet. 

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