UNINSURED: Discount Medical Services Company Goes National
A Fort Lauderdale, FL, company that arranges deep discounts for medical services for uninsured Floridians will take its product nationwide, the South Florida Business Journal reports. North American Care currently contracts with only 500 physicians, but the company has entered negotiations with an unnamed medical company that could expand North American's network to include 700,000 physicians, dentists, chiropractors and vision specialists. Founder Claudio Smuclovisky explained that the company assumes no risk, but charges an up-front patient fee for "consolidating all details of a specific medical procedure onto a single bill" and "arranging complete medical treatments." The advantage for physicians and hospitals is "full and prompt payment"; in return, providers agree to reduce their fees -- 66% on average. The Business Journal reports that Smuclovisky's critics argue that the discount service "lacks financing options" crucial for uninsured people who may not know how to finance expensive medical procedures. North American, however, plans to remedy that shortcoming through a new catastrophic-coverage PPO, to be marketed through an agreement with Healthcare National Marketing, which will advertise the product under the title Health Pro. For $15 a month, Health Pro subscribers will be able to buy into the discount services where they "sometimes must pay in full for a medical procedure costing less than, say, $5,000," Healthcare National president Tom Lane said (Cox, 3/29 issue).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.