My doctor, Garrison Bliss, and his two partners at Seattle Medical Associates are part of a group of practices that are being examined to see if they're actually insurers. Given that they provide a service in exchange for a fee and don't pay any of my bills for me, or act in any way like an insurance company -- I'm not eliminating any risk in my finances by paying them a monthly retainer fee -- this is absurd, but the law might be cast in such a way as to suck them into its net.Clearly, there's a problem when a middle-class guy like myself can afford to get great medical care outside insurance by paying a doctor a monthly fee regardless of whether I see him or not. This removes this doctor from the pool of all doctors that people with insurance might see. But the system itself is what's broken: health insurance, malpractice lawsuits and insurance, the medical bureaucracy, and the oceans governmental regulation have combined to make medical costs skyrocket. My doctor's practice had to raise their rates to cover what they estimated as $100,000 in costs to comply with the medical privacy rules recently passed. While those rules have good components, they're so overly broad and require so much implementation, that medically associated organizations have chosen in some cases to release no information to anyone because of the potential of fines and jail time! The investigation of my doctor and similar retainer-based practices appears to be driven by the insurance companies, who I guess are seeing a potential threat to their monopoly. My health insurance, in fact, doesn't include doctor office visits (which is why I'll be changing my insurance soon to add it). It's critical to distinguish my doctor's practice from The Polyclinic and others that are charging supplementary fees and collecting insurance as well. If I have to go to Olympia and protest for the right to have a private relationship with a doctor and pay him a retainer, I will.