Saturday, February 18, 2006

Can doctors offer differential pricing ?

A common complaint many patients have about doctors is that it takes very long to get an appointment. No one wants to wait when they are sick - you need to see a doctor pronto to get better ! Unfortunately, doctors are busy people, and it can take upto 2-4 weeks to get an appointment.
I have a suggestion to resolve this impasse.
Doctors should offer differential pricing for their appointments. Let's say your doctor charges US $ 100 for a routine elective visit, when the appointment has been taken 1 month in advance. If you feel you are ill and need to see him urgently, he should offer you a next-day appointment for a premium - say US $ 200. And if you think it's really urgent, he can see you the same day for US $ 400.
Hospitals offer differential pricing at present for many services they offer. For example, an appendectomy costs you much more if you choose to stay in a private deluxe room as compared to a general ward. Why can't doctors use the same principles ? Consumers are used to this model for other services as well ( for example, airline tickets). This model will allow them to exert a certain amount of control over how quickly they want to be seen by their doctor.

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