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Americans deserve the Right to Choose Their Own Health Care Providers

The American Chiropractic Association has long maintained that a meaningful health care professional-patient relationship is essential to good overall health and that the patient's ability to choose his or her health care provider is vital to establishing and preserving this relationship. Americans are increasingly concerned that rapid changes in the health care system may be limiting access to high-quality care by overemphasizing cost controls. Congress appears poised to act to protect patients' rights. Any legislation that adequately addresses these concerns must include a strong point of service (POS) provision that guarantees all Americans the option of choosing their own health care professionals.

Patient Choice is Affordable

    The April 22, 1998 Kaiser Family Foundation study conducted by Coopers & Lybrand found that guaranteeing Americans the option of choosing their own health professionals would add only 58 cents to the average monthly health care premiums for an individual, or as a Kaiser spokesman put it, "dirt cheap."

    The Kaiser study is consistent with an earlier study by Muse & Associates which estimated an increase of 0.3 percent in health premiums for those electing a "point of service" option, based on actual claims data developed by Milliman and Robertson, Inc.
Americans Highly Value Their Right to Choose Health Professionals

    In poll after poll, overwhelming majorities of Americans say that the right to choose their own doctor or other health professional is extremely important.

    Perhaps this is why President Clinton's statement that, "You have the right to choose the doctor you want for the care that you need," drew such thunderous applause during the 1998 State of the Union address.
Only Congress Can Guarantee Patient Choice for All Americans

    Many states already have taken steps to ensure the patients' right to choose their health professionals. Contrary to dire predictions from the managed care industry, these measures have not caused dramatic cost increases.

    Medicare beneficiaries, federal employees, and members of Congress all enjoy the option of choosing their own health professionals.

    The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) shields the health plans that cover the 125 million Americans from state laws and regulations. So even when states act to guarantee patient choice for their citizens, many plans operate outside of those controls.
Congress can and should pass legislation that provides all insured Americans with the right to choose their own health professionals. The American Chiropractic Association will continue to support those patents' rights bills that include this essential provision.
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