Via Rachel comes a WSJ column about a physician who charges his patients flat, monthly rates rather than billing by appointment or procedure. This seems like it might be a good system. It resembles monthly plans for cellphone service, where service providers makes money in part because many subscribers use fewer than their allotted minutes, and subscribers who go over the limit pay a higher rate for the marginal minutes. (The fact that the prepaid medical plan doesn’t cover everything is its way of dealing with high-demand, high-cost customers who are analogous to cellphone users who exceed their allotted minutes.)
Naturally, the innovative physician’s business is under attack from regulators and insurance companies, but it appears that he is more than holding his own (one insurer is considering offering a plan to complement the prepaid service). It will be interesting to see if his business model is viable in the long term and in markets other than the one that he serves.