“I would like to recommend you set an appointment at Walk-Again Clinic for further tests after your hip replacement surgery,” if your physician told you this, you would most likely think nothing of it and set an appointment with the recommended clinic. After all, He has been your physician for ten years and you trust him absolutely. However, your physician has a vested interest in referring you to Walk-Again Clinic, in that he owns it and any and all profits go directly to him. Prior to 2010 you would have thought nothing of it and likewise the law would have not held any relief either. Many would read that statement and find not much wrong with it.
New Laws Straining Physician – Hospital Relationships
However after President Obama’s signing of the Stark Laws on March 23, 2010, a physician within a group practice referring his/her patient for MRI, CT or PET to be provided within the group practice must provide the patient, at the time of the referral, written notice that the patient may obtain these imaging services from a supplier other than the group practice. The policy behind this law is that many physicians in the past had the ability to bypass the Stark Laws and profit from patients who utilized Medicare or Medicaid. They would do so by referring the patient to specific clinics or specialty centers which they either owned or were compensated for referrals by. This was a definite slap in the face to the trust of the patient and a pitfall in the free market of the United States. Who would believe that their physician of 20 years was actually referring them to clinics for testing where they were overcharged and then compensating the very physician who sent them there?
However, the Stark laws are now in place and are able to combat this loophole for physicians. It is straining the relationships between physicians and hospitals. As you can imagine, physicians who had been using this loophole to grow rich were disheartened to find that it was being taken away from them. It is just another ability of those with the knowledge to take advantage of a system meant to help those in need. It is yet another example of how educating yourself on the laws of your everyday life can be a great asset; do not allow others to take advantage of you, educate yourself. Only then can you analyze pitfalls and negate them before ever setting foot in a situation that could be detrimental to both your finances and health.
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