Saturday, March 21, 2009

NY Bureaucrats Force Low-Cost Doc to Raise Fees

The state is trying to shut down a New York City doctor's ambitious plan to treat uninsured patients for around $1,000 a year. Dr. John Muney (pictured above) offers his patients everything from mammograms to mole removal at his AMG Medical Group clinics, which operate in all five boroughs. His patients agree to pay $79 a month for a year in return for unlimited office visits with a $10 co-pay.

"I'm trying to help uninsured people here," he said.

But his plan landed him in the crosshairs of the state Insurance Department, which ordered him to drop his fixed-rate plan - which it claims is equivalent to an insurance policy. Muney insists it is not insurance because it doesn't cover anything that he can't do in his offices, like complicated surgery. He points out his offices do not operate 24/7 so they can't function like emergency rooms. The state believes his plan runs afoul of the law because it promises to cover unplanned procedures - like treating a sudden ear infection - under a fixed rate. That's something only a licensed insurance company can do.

"I'm not doing an insurance business," he said. "I'm just providing my services at my place during certain hours." "If they leave me alone, I can serve thousands of patients," he said.

A New York City doctor whose low-cost health care plan angered state officials has agreed to increase his fees. The state Insurance Department told Dr. John Muney last month to end the $79-a-month medical service at his AMG Medical Group clinics in all five boroughs. Department spokesman Andy Mais says Muney was violating state law by basically operating as an insurance operator without a license. The monthly fee buys unlimited office visits, including certain tests and in-office surgeries.

Muney will charge $33 per visit for all but preventive care, which Mais says brings him in compliance. Muney's spokesman says he'll challenge the restrictions through legislation. Muney, a former surgeon, started offering the $79-a-month plan in 2008.

MP: Alternative title to the second story "Consumers-Patients Lose, Bureaucrats Force Low-Cost Doctor To Raise Fees."


At 3/21/2009 2:29 PM, Blogger Larry Sheldon said...

Damn. Glad they got him stopped in time!

The horror! What if he had saved somebody's life!

At 3/21/2009 3:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is any attorney on retainer offering insurance?

At 3/21/2009 3:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in New York state and I never saw this story in the newspapers or on TV. I go to a gym that charges a flat rate for the month or year, no matter how many times I go. Are they also in violation of the NYS Insurance Department? I guess the insurance companies are afraid of the competition.

At 3/21/2009 5:34 PM, Blogger Larry Sheldon said...


At 3/21/2009 8:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 3/23/2009 2:29 AM, Blogger bob wright said...

Alternative headliness:
"Statists defeat free market"
"Government doesn't care about uninsured"
"Government refuses to help uninsured"
"Bureaucrats lie; people die"

At 3/23/2009 2:06 PM, Blogger Uvulapie said...

For some reason I can't help thinking about FDR's NRA program that was ruled as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in a 9 to 0 vote a mere two years after the NRA was passed.

At 3/24/2009 5:11 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

For some reason I can't help thinking about FDR's NRA program that was ruled as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in a 9 to 0 vote a mere two years after the NRA was passed.

Yes, but now we have change we can believe in. Right?

This whole thing irritates me to the core. NY also has so many mandates that insurance premiums for two extremely healthy non-smoking, non-drinking adults runs $13K per year. Of course the insurance industry doesn't want competition and it's pretty clear the regulators who were long ago captured by the industry are going to make sure that better alternatives are shut down so that politicians can continue screeching that without them running healthcare in the crack way they've been running it, we're all doomed.


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