In time, the Medicare system and private insurance companies began to feel the financial pinch of the multitude of tests and procedures that were ordered by all the specialists. Not only did the sheer numbers of tests that were performed raise insurance premiums across the board, the insurance companies also began to ask to have final approval before any test was administered.
When I first began my medical practice, I could clearly see the abuses of the system. I remember one patient in particular who came to me complaining of severe headaches. According to her description, they fit the definition of a classic migraine. She was taking medications that had been prescribed for her by five different neurologists. When she arrived for her appointment, she pulled out a total of five different CAT scans of the head, all of which were negative. When I asked her why she had so many different scans, she told me she wanted to make sure she didn’t have a brain tumor. I asked her why, since all five were negative, she hadn’t told each of the neurologists about the previous neurologist’s tests. She replied that she wanted each doctor to come to his own conclusion. “After all,” she concluded, “my insurance company was paying for all the tests, so what’s the big deal?”
I have also seen patients who have had complete medical workups a month before they saw me who wanted me to repeat all of the same tests so they would get the results quickly and not have to wait for the records to be released from their previous physicians. Are you beginning to get the picture? It’s pretty clear why doctors’ fees as well as health insurance premiums have rocketed skyward in the last decade.