Georgia doctors opting out of Medicare

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - With healthcare more accessible to many Americans, some doctors are now deciding to opt out of Medicare, making it more difficult for some who rely on the system to help pay for their healthcare.

"I like taking care of the elderly. I like taking care of people who don't have money, who are poor, who are on Medicare," Dr. Rob Lamberts said.

But Lamberts decided to opt out of medicare a little over a year ago.

"I had to struggle with that," Lamberts said. "Can I still do that and not burn out? For me, I had to leave it because I was burning out and because I really felt like I could not sustain the emotional energy of dealing with all the stressors of that."

Lamberts, who practices internal medicine and pediatrics, said another reason for leaving behind patients who have insurance is because of a flawed system.

"It's all about the entire motivation financially, with Medicare, with Medicaid, with health insurance in general, is to spend, spend, spend, because the sicker people are, the more things we do for them, the more a lot of people get paid," Lamberts said.

With 500 patients, Lamberts said he has noticed a growth in this kind of concierge practice, where he is accessible practically 24/7.

"I can handle problems in the most efficient way possible," Lamberts said.

Which may even include talking over the phone or sending him pictures of a scars of rashes.

And while more doctors are becoming like Lamberts, he says even if you are on Medicare, or any other kind of insurance, you can benefit from this kind of practice.

"Ten to 15 percent of my practice is Medicare still, and I'm saving them a busload of money, keeping them out of the hospital," Lamberts said. "In the past, I was costing Medicare money. Now, I'm actually saving Medicare money. So I think it's a pretty good bargain."

Truthfully concierge doctors could charge in the hundreds, but Dr. Lamberts' monthly fee is between $30 and $60.

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