KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

A Two-Door Clinic Segregates Patients Based On How They Pay

A radiology clinic in Manhattan's Upper East Side has two doors, an example of a new, two-tiered medical practice model favored by some doctors, MSNBC reports. One door opens to a crowded waiting room while the other opens into a small private room with four chairs and little or no waiting line. The crowded room is for patients whose insurance will pay for their visit. The smaller room is for patients willing – and able – to pay cash, meaning more revenue for the clinic, and for patients, shorter wait times for appointments, direct contact with physicians, prompter results and personalized care.

A written policy at the clinic prohibits employees from letting patients know about the "other" door at the conjoined clinics, even though patients eventually end up being treated by the same doctors in the same facility. Patients using insurance -- insurers may pay less than half as much as cash-paying patients for a routine mammogram -- may never see a doctor face-to-face during their visit, and have to wait days for their results. Cash-payers see a doctor and get results right away (Dedman, 11/23).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.