Diary

Doctoring on the Installment Plan

How does a successful doctor deal with patients lacking insurance? Dr. John Muney decided to offer a deal. For $79 each month he would service patients with unlimited office visits, some tests, and even in-office surgeries — at all his AMG Medical Group centers.

Now, the deal’s not for me. I have insurance through work, and I also have a family, so that $79 would have to be multiplied by four. Real money. But for some people, I bet, this makes perfect sense.

Yet, if government gets its way, no patient of New York’s five boroughs — where Muney’s clinics are located — need ever consider the good doctor’s innovation. Why? Because the state Insurance Department has declared his service a form of insurance and says it requires a license from the state.

What were you thinking, Dr. Muney? This is a free country, and . . . you can’t just do what you want, you know.

Dr. Muney is fighting back. The application form for this contract has THIS IS NOT INSURANCE emblazoned on every page. He is challenging the bureaucracy’s ruling.

Once upon a time, doctors regularly engaged in this kind of pricing. Many doctors — perhaps most — engaged in pro bono work for the poor. Other had special rates, etc. But the American Medical Association pressured politicians to put an end to such competitive practices.

Thanks, AMA.

As for Dr. Muney, my thanks to you is not sarcastic. Hang in there.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.