I've been working on my Caddo history book and writing about early doctors. In the early 1800's there were as many as six doctors in the area, and they made house calls. In 1874 a visit in town cost $2.50, after 9pm it was $3.00. If you lived in the country they charged $1.00 a mile. And having a baby would cost you a whopping $15.00. Contrary to old stories about bartering chickens, their ad says they prefer "strictly cash" or its equivalent.
In addition to doctoring, most physicians operated a pharmacy and prescriptions were $2-$5. There were lots of ads in the paper for tonics and pills and potions to treat "liver ailments" and "remove poisons" from the body. Home remedies were also very popular, so I would imagine that a visit from the doctor meant you were REALLY sick!
I remember two occasions when Dr. Moose made a visit to our house- once when I had pneumonia and another time when I had a severe sunburn. I'm almost positive that was 1966. I don't know what he charged, but it sure was a relief to not have to get dressed and go to the office. I was so burned I couldn't bear to have anything touch my back for a week. I just sat around the house and moaned, like any sixteen-year-old who has done something incredibly stupid.
Doctors who made house calls knew a lot about their patients. They saw where you lived, what kind of car you drove, and if you kept a clean house. They met other family members. They knew if you had a dog or kept a pig. They could see first-hand the things that affected your health. And they could probably estimate how long it would take for you to pay your bill.
House calls sound like a convenient thing, but I'm not sure I want my doctor to know that much about me! LOL It's bad enough sometimes to just go to the same doctor for years. You can't bluff or lie or make excuses. They see right through you. What if they actually visited your home! Yikes! And with everyone's busy schedules it would be just like waiting for a plumber- "I'll be there some time tomorrow between 8am and 3pm."
My doctor is a good mixture of both concepts. He works in a modern clinic and carries a laptop, yet knows my family and remembers enough about me to carry on a good conversation. I think I'll ask him about the chickens!