I wondered why my endocrinologist billed me $82 over and above the uisual $25 co-pay for a routine preventive visit just check my A1C. I called my insurance carrier and found out my doctor billed my visit not as routine and preventive but as a visit for a specific treatment (I imagine he gets a higher reimbursement that way). So I pointed out the error in in big red letters and returned the bill. Besides I called the doctor's office (not withstanding the telephone hell), demanded an e-mail address and sent him an e-mail, with copy to the insurance carrier.
MORAL: Watch your doctor bills like a hawk and jump at the sligtest infraction. When you visit your doctor, ask for the office e-mail address, send yopur questions by e-mail, print the e-mails and send by snail mail to confirm. Activist patients advocating in their own behalf has to be a big part of containing health care costs.
"genuine" billing errors and wrong codes happen because we consumers have been letting the health care providers and insurance carriers get away with robbery - they are NOT transparent in their business practices and erect smoke screens at every stage because we consumes let them get away with it. You don't have to take my words for it - next time you need a procedure, ask the doctor and hospital for a price quote - I can bet you won't get a straight answer, because the price is whatever they decide at the time they provide the service. The entire health care industry needs a swift kick in the butt...unfortunately most retirees and others 1-2 years away from retiring, like me, are too polite, trusting and shy away from confrontational questions.
Time to start shopping for health care the same way we shop for a washing machine or a car repair! Tell Wal-Mart you would like every outlet to offer a $49 express-care clinic for most routine health cafe needs, staffed with certified nurse practioners or physician assistants - we don't need a $250,000 a year MD for most common health care needs!
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