The Mackinac Centre for Public Policy has an interesting piece on the “myth” that free public health care empowers the poor. I’m not here to debate the public versus private issue (not today, at least) but it does raise some interesting questions.

They claim that paying for health care is more empowering, since it forces the system in question to treat you as a customer to be satisfied, and therefore leads to a higher level of service.

Interestingly, many alternative health practitioners have argued for years that patients who pay for their own care actually get better faster than those who don’t. They claim it forces an investment in the outcome for both doctor and patient, and therefore increases compliance to treatment protocols.

This has applications at a more subtle level in your practice. Many CAM docs, when starting out, or out of the goodness of their hearts, may be inclined to discount their services for those in need, to offer free care as a public service, or to offer “bargains” to get new patients in the door.

The problem with this is that it erodes the investment that the patient makes in their care, and if the anecdotal evidence I hear has any credence, it hampers their healing.

Am I saying you shouldn’t “give back”? Nope, but if you want to help the less fortunate, or give to your community, try doing it in a way that doesn’t involve cutting your fees or doing pro bono clinic work. Volunteer at a blood donor clinic. Talk to students about nutrition. There are endless ways to give that don’t involve lowering your prices.

Patients who are successful using your treatment plans are the best referral source out there. If paying full price helps get them healthy faster, why argue? :)

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