But many Americans are also noticing another disturbing trend: higher insurance premiums to offset the cost of those who do not have sufficient resources to pay for their care. While the reality of our higher health care costs demand that the added costs be paid by someone, I suspect most of those who will be paying higher premiums didn't think they'd have to "share" their physician appointments with others.
But here we are.
For large health care systems, shared patient appointments offer the promise of high revenue streams with low overhead costs. As such, there is no downside to promoting such a model:
Since 2005, the percentage of practices offering group visits has doubled, from 6% to 13% in 2010. With major provisions of the Affordable Care Act due to be implemented by next year, such group visits are also becoming attractive cost savers — patients who learn more about ways to prevent more serious disease can avoid expensive treatments. (ed's note: Sales pitch - there are no data that group appointments "prevent" more serious disease or "avoid" expensive treatments)Looking at this, how could anyone argue? It seems like such a helpful premise. But patients subjected to such a system have to agree one very important issue: surrendering their privacy:
“It’s a different way of speaking about health that is more about friends around a circle learning together than talking with an authority figure in a white coat,” says Dr. Jeff Cain, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, in describing shared medical appointments. Think of them as a blend between group therapy and support groups. The net effect is the same – a sense of comfort, support and even motivation that comes from sharing similar experiences. (ed's note: Easy for him to say. Any proof?)
But they do require divulging and discussing private medical information in front of strangers (albeit ones who have signed waivers not to talk about other patients’ medical histories outside of the visit).