Doctors this year are dealing with more and more red tape and less and less money from insurance companies. The result? Passing the cost on to patients.
As if medical costs weren't rising enough, many people are finding out their longtime doctors are adding new fees this year.
If it happens, the question is: Should you pay, fight, or change doctors?
$50 Just To Walk In The Door
Michael Anderson has seen the same doctor for more than 10 years. But now his doctor wants to charge him $50 a year just to be a patient and walk in the door.
"The letter states that with this $50 comes some additional benefits, some including some same-day appointments, e-mail access, web portal, nonemergency questions," Anderson said.
New Fees At Many Offices
More and more practices have the same rule.
Among the fees some offices now charge:
-Annual office fees
-Paperwork fees for completing school or sports forms
-Fax fees for faxing information to a pharmacy or another doctor
-Fees for chatting with a nurse on the phone.
Anderson said he was given no option.
"I called and they said, 'You're either in or you're out,'" said Anderson. "Either pay $50 at my next appointment or I might have to find another doctor."
Anderson said he wasn't sure what he's going to do because he likes his doctor, but he's concerned that if he pays up now, what's to stop practices from increasing the charge?
"What's to stop them from raising this in subsequent years?" Anderson asked. "$50 could next year be $75 or $100, and if I do find another doctor, what's to say that other health networks are not going to be charging the same thing?"
What You Can Do
If you receive a letter like this, you may want to try to negotiate. If the office staff won't help, speak with your doctor directly next time you have an appointment.
A spokesperson from Cincinnati's UC Health Office said some doctors are willing to waive the fee if you really can't afford it.
That way you don't waste your money.
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