The doctor then takes a history and physical, spending about 30 minutes with me, for which the flat fee is $50. He explains his hourly billing is $100-much less than a typical lawyer charges, I'm happy to note. He tells me at the end of the evaluation that my problem can likely be evaluated in under five hours of his time, and that the retainer will be $500. I will be billed monthly and asked to replenish the retainer if it drops below $150. I can pay cash, write a check, or use a credit card, but I have money saved in a health savings account (HSA), so I just pay using my HSA debit card.
I do not have to wait to see my physician. He makes himself or his physician assistant (PA, who bills at only $50 an hour) readily available to me. He phones and e-mails to answer any questions I have or to convey health information to me in a timely fashion.
This is an excerpt from "Health Care: A Future Free-Market Alternative," in The Freeman, October 2009. In it, Ross Levatter, M.D. lays out what I found a highly plausible vision of what a free market in health care would look like. Well worth reading.
Sidebar: Ross is also a big fan of Thomas Szasz, whom Bryan is a big fan of also. Here's a piece he wrote on Szasz.