Is there really a way to save at the doctor office? I believe there is. How many times have we heard, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” The same holds true when speaking with a physicians office. Use the correct wording to get the response that you understand before you book your next visit to see a doctor. DO Ask: “Are you in-network” and “Do you have a current contract” with your insurer. DON’T Ask: “Do you take or accept my insurance.” That statement can be misleading because out of network doctors may accept what your insurer pays, but then they will bill you for the balance of their fees that was not covered by your insurer. Also ask whether the doctor works for a hospital. If so, the hospital may bill you hundreds of dollars in “facility fees”, even if the office is miles away. You also might want to consider paying cash up front if you have to cover a high deductible cost. Some doctors offer a discount for paying up front. If you don’t know, ask.
Remember, you’re the patient – the customer. In order to save at the doctor office, always tailor your visit by being specific as to what you want. For example, when you schedule an appointment with a physician never ask for a “routine check-up”, any service can be called routine. Once you’re there if the physician doesn’t like the sound of a cough or heartbeat, they may want to examine you – and that’s when the meter starts running. We all want to know as soon as possible if there is a problem, but the physician may start a “problem focused evaluation” that is not covered by your insurer. Ask the physician if the evaluation needs to be done immediately and how much extra these steps, methods, tests are going to cost. You might want to shop around for another qualified doctor that has lower fees. Of course regular doctor visits are essential to maintaining good health and in some cases might provide detection of a severe illness early on. Seeing a doctor is smart, just make sure you can afford the one you’re seeing.
My point here is, your health information is just that – YOURS! What tests, procedures, office visits your healthcare coverage covers might not be fully known to you and you could be faced with some substantial bills thereafter. Ask questions. Check pricing. Be engaged with your healthcare and let your physician know if something is not covered, and ask them to be mindful of your expenses. They might offer samples of medications to help off-set some costs for you. The more you know about your medical history the better prepared you are to make well informed healthcare decisions.