In an effort to control costs, it was mentioned in a CT Mirror story that some insurers may use networks with smaller numbers of doctors, favoring those who are more “efficient.”

But being an “efficient” doctor, however, is not the same as being a good doctor.  Following an insurer’s guidelines may save it money and increase its profits but that doesn’t mean that patients necessarily receive better care.

Guidelines do not provide directions on treating individual patients.  They are general instructions and as such, do not take into account that patients’ symptoms often are confusing and ambiguity prevails. Good doctors ignore the guidelines and use their judgment and intuition and their knowledge of the patient to guide their treatment.

This can lead to doctors being branded as “inefficient.” It’s unfair and can harm their livelihoods because insurers may penalize them or cut them from their lists.

The point is that now insurers have a major role in shaping and controlling the health care system. While it is important that our lawmakers seek to protect patients from being exploited, it is just as important to protect doctors’ rights to do what is best for their patients.

Our lawmakers must establish safeguards to protect patients and doctors from being exploited.

A good place to start would be to return the powers that insurers seized from doctors. It is the only way that medicine will recover its personal touch.

Dr. Edward Volpintesta has been a general practitioner in Bethel for 40 years.

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