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House Calls Make a Comeback

House calls were once routine but disappeared as increasing costs meant physicians needed to fit more patients into every hour, notes Walter Krause, president and founder of Inn-House Doctor, a doctor-on-demand service that started in Boston. His firm, now in eight cities, is one of many that have sprung up in recent years to offer urgent care around the clock for travelers, families, and others whose problems don't mandate an ER trip. The physicians may work full-time for the service or have other jobs.

Within minutes of your call you speak to a physician, and within an hour one shows up ready to do basic tests and treat such routine ills as earache or food poisoning. "We take care of 85 percent of what you used to go to the emergency room for," says Jordan Shlain, MD, medical director of the San Francisco On Call Medical Group. Services generally provide a report for your own doctor. Depending on your plan, insurers may reimburse some of the $200 to $800 per-visit cost. For the insurance company, house calls are a savings over ER fees.

Continued on page 3:  No More Long Waits


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