Hawaii Doctor Says No to Insurance Company Partnership

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- During our month long series on Hawaii's Health Care, we've learned many doctors consider leaving Hawaii because of the high cost of business and declining insurance reimbursements here.

Now, we meet one doctor who recently returned to the islands from a large and lucrative mainland practice.

She now has a staff of one -- her husband.

And she's said no to insurance company partnership.

Like most patients who see doctors, Alison Miyasaki doesn't have time to waste.

As a Certified Public Accountant, her time is money.

"If I have an appointment at 9 in the morning, I see her by 9:05 which is important to me because I have my own practice so time is of value to me," said Alison Miyasaki.

Enter Doctor Winona Wong of Aloha Dermatology.

She and her husband Mike returned to Hawaii from lucrative jobs in Boston.

Choosing not only to take a very significant cut in pay, but to do away with insuarnce companies.

"Patients love it because I can spent more time with them I'm accessible when they need it," said Wong.

Wong says her style of medicine re-establishes the lost relationship, between doctor and patient.

"There's no intrusion where insurance companies are going to fill up my time with red tape, administrative duties bureaucracy and a lot of hurdles in terms of getting an adequate and timely, timely payment for my services," said Wong.

Wong says most patients in a "preferred provider" plan already pay extra to see a doctor of their choosing.

And even if a physician, like Dr. Wong, doesn't participate with an insurance company, she still submits a claim on their behalf.

"Do all that headache for them so they see me, pay me up front, I turn in the paperwork and they get paid back by their insurance company."

That ultimately translates into less time battling with insurance companies, and more time doing what she was trained to do.

Help people.

"A lot of the heart and soul and the joy of practicing medicine, making patients feel better having a direct relationship with them has been removed by the time constraints, the monetary constraints the documents restraints created by our third party system."

And although she says she's not the first, Wong says she expects to see more and more physicians follow her example.

"They're not going to let the insurance companies tell them how to do medicine and what could and should be done to care for a patient. Doctors feel that's something that should be between the doctor and the patient," Wong said.

While other doctors are leaving Hawaii, the Wong's returned home to raise their young daughter here.

They say not dealing directly with an insurance company saves them several hours of office work everyday.

It also saves them from having to hire as many as two full time office workers just to deal with payments and reimbursements.