Opting Out of Medicare — Opposing Views

Mary Jo Curran, MD
Article Type: 
Summer 2002
Volume Number: 
Issue Number: 

Dear Editor,
It has been three and one-half years since I opted out of Medicare and I couldn’t be more satisfied. Before I took the step, I was always resentful my fees were fixed by the government and were so low that I could not cover my overhead. Then I had to constantly contemplate the disturbing thought that if I made an inadvertent coding error, I could be fined and prosecuted. Philosophically, I also considered the Medicare program to be anti-American and anti-freedom. I resent the unjust manner in which Medicare is administered by the bureaucrats and the so-called fraud and abuse witch hunts that threaten the livelihood of every physician. Medicare is the antithesis of the values that were the foundation of this country and a constant peril to our constitutional liberties. Any MBA will tell you that the business of the Medicare reimbursement is unsound.

When I opted out of Medicare, I knew I would lose some referrals — either because of professional jealousy or because of Medicare administrative problems. I also had a problem with the socialistic attitude engendered by government in many Medicare recipients — namely, that they were “entitled” to my services every hour of the day including weekends for non-emergent care. For this, I received very little reimbursement and even less gratitude. This is the type of mentality engendered by government socialistic programs.

There is no looking back, and I would have opted out of Medicare sooner except the hospital where I had the contract for anesthesia services required that I accept Medicare as part of the contract. This was before I was enlightened. No more! But that is another issue — hospital exclusive contracts. These contracts are always written for the benefit of the hospital and violate many of our beliefs about free enterprise.

I am now very happy that I had the courage to take that final step to opt out of Medicare — and break the oppressive shackles of government medicine.

Mary Jo Curran, MD
Chicago, IL


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