Private health insurance used to be the ticket to a doctor's appointment. But that's no longer the case in some affluent metropolitan enclaves, where many physicians no longer accept insurance and require upfront payment from patients-cash, checks and credit cards accepted.
On Manhattan's Upper East Side, it's not unusual for a pregnant woman to pay $13,000 out of pocket in advance for childbirth and prenatal care to a physician who does not participate in any health plan. Some gynecologists are charging $650 for an annual checkup. And for pediatricians who shun insurance, parents on the Upper East Side are shelling out $150 to $250 whenever a child falls or runs a high fever.