Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It's Not Balanced Billing by Doctors, It's Just New Fees

Looks like after hours phone calls will cost patients at some centers here in Chicago:
Some Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation patients are about to be hit with new administrative fees as the group attempts to ease its physicians' workload.

Patients of the foundation's general internal medicine division were told recently that starting Friday, they will be charged $25 for placing non-emergency phone calls to their doctors outside of office hours. The division is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

The foundation said in a letter to patients that it's implementing several new fees because the time physicians spend addressing patient needs outside of office visits has compromised the hospital's ability to provide "efficient service."
While other fees will also be levied, some come with a convenient catch:
New fees are also being levied for filling out patient-requested paperwork outside of an office visit ($25 to $50), for patients who miss an appointment without a day's notice ($50) and for providing online medical consultations ($25).

Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation won't charge a fee for after-hours calls or online consultations if they lead to an office visit within seven days or if they are used to clarify a physicians' instructions following a visit within the past week.
It will be interesting to see what patients think about these new fees and the higher insurance co-pays they'll be seeing soon. As far as I know, our institution is still holding out on such fees.

-Wes

3 comments:

WarmSocks said...

My family physician has had a sign in his waiting room for a couple years that there will be a $20 fee for having the doctor complete a form. That seems reasonable.

Unreasonable is when a separate "facilities fee" is tacked on.

Anonymous said...

The overhead involved in collecting and posting most of these small fees will just about wipe out any additional income.

Agree that the facility fee is a huge scam.

Anonymous said...

Frnakly, this pisses me off!

I'm a pharmacist & when I worked inpatient, it took 2-3 phone calls to the office to get an answer. By that time, we said screw it & got the hospitalist or residents to overrride the attendings ridiculous order.

When I work outpatient, it takes easily 3 requests to get refill approvals. When we get them, it will be for 2 months of lisinpril or digoxin??? WHAT?

Your patients complain they just had labwork & have seen the Dr & aren't due to see him/her for a year. Yet, I only get 2 months of refills at a time. Pisses both patient & me off & wastes our time & energies as well as that of you & your staff. Just approve 12 months & get done with it.

NOW whose time are you wasting??????

As a patient, I've spent hours waiting for various Drs, often without notice or being informed when I signed in. I've even been left undressed in a paper gown while the staff was closing up. Yep - Dr had long gone!!!!

The wasted time occurs on both sides & its often better to go along to get along. Patients go along because we have no other choice. But, hmmmm..... not so much for fees unless you provide a better service.