This week, the Food and Drug Administration announced that it is considering allowing several drugs that need a doctor’s prescription right now to be made available to Americans without a physician’s okay. This move is still being debated by the FDA, but it has a lot of support since it would make some very popular drugs for things like diabetes much cheaper for people to buy.
1. Legally Get Prescription Drugs Without a Doctor? That May Be True Very Soon.
If the FDA goes ahead with this proposal, doctors would be taken out of the loop for many Americans as they would get drugs based on answering a questionaire about their symptoms. Sounds efficient, but doctors warn that this is risky. Not having a medical professional checking out an individual’s symptoms may mean something is missed, and the person is harmed.
2. Doctors Practicing Without Dealing With Health Insurance? That’s Happening Now.
Meanwhile, doctors are reacting to costs on their own. There is a growing national trend for physicians to opt for “direct pay model” practices, otherwise known as “concierge” medicine. (Here’s a list of these practices.)
In these new doctors’ offices, the doctor offers you a membership in a monthly service plans at a reasonable rate, and may well also offer pay-as-you-go options. The doctor does NOT accept insurance. Most doctors are finding that after they transition to this new model, they are making more money than they did before, and they aren’t having to deal with insurance companies at all. Neither are their patients, as many Americans who currently are without health insurance are finding these “direct pay” doctors an answer to a prayer.
3. Risks to Consider – What Happens When Someone Is Hurt by a Mistake?
The reason that personal injury law exists is to protect those that have been hurt through no fault of their own: victims of mistakes made by others who need justice. With these changes in the medical industry, what happens to Americans when they get drugs through a questionnaire or they go to a concierge doctor and because of a medical mistake, they are seriously injured or killed?
Product liability laws will still protect for some drug errors; however, people will need to be very careful in answering questionnaires and they will need to trust that those questionnaires are going to protect them. No doctor being involved means that an experienced health care professional will not be involved in that drug being dispensed to the patient. Who will be legally responsible for errors made by the questionnaire? Will the finger be pointed at the patient for the harm he or she has suffered?
As for concierge medicine, doctors will still carry medical malpractice coverage. They are simply offering another way of doing business that skirts the health insurance carrier. Patients with coverage can still file their own claims – the doctor’s office just isn’t going to be involved.
Times are changing, and sometimes change is good. Be careful out there.