Today I had appointments with the dentist and the neurologist. The dental appointment went fine. I was in and out in a flash, and on my way to the second appointment.
I was 20 minutes early for the visit, so I resigned myself to a wait. I could see the doc conversing with one of his assistants, so at least I knew that he was at the facility. While I waited, the appointments secretary called me to the window. She is an overwhelming woman, larger than life, and simply large, and she has this faintly false pleasant demeanor that forces you to smile back and be nice.
I have to tell you, I ended up not being nice.
I was asked to read and sign and date two pages of information. One of the pages listed all the new charges that had been instituted. If you cancel your visit 24 hours or less prior to the visit, or miss a visit, they charge $50. If you call to have a prescription renewed over the phone, they charge $25.00. Completion of any type of form (insurance, letters to school or employer, etc.) cost $100.00, and Insurance company authorization calls by the doctor (for tests, admissions, etc) are $100.00 per call.
Only 58% of his patients paid their bills last year, so now, if you wish to see the doctor, you pay a set fee up front, BEFORE you see the doctor. They no longer accept personal checks, and requested a credit card. I offered them one, and they said they didn't take it. I offered another, and asked what happened when a patient didn't have a credit card. I was told that those who wanted to see the doctor managed to "discover that they had a card."
I was incredibly insulted. Because my doctor doesn't know how to run a business, he is treating me as though I am out to bilk him out of his fees.
The doctor kept me waiting. He didn't take my blood pressure or my temperature. He asked me what drugs I was taking, and whether the one he prescribed working for me. We spent less than five minutes on my health care. He then spent 20 minutes of my time trying to explain why he has had to make the changes.
I told him that he was likely to loose patient this way. I have always paid in full at every visit, and my checks never bounce. I told him that the quality of MY health care shouldn't suffer because others are not paying their bills.
The bottom line is, I spent $125.00 for five minutes of health care and a one year prescription for the drug I need for pain control, and wasted 40 more minutes of my time. The doctor is in so deep, and is so defensive, that he can't hear what you say to him any longer.
Needless to say, I'll have to look for someone else to help me with this part of my health care.
To be fair, I know that the health system needs a major overhaul. I know that insurance has had a hand in ruining many a practice, and it seems that the economy is now helping others to crash. We need improved guidelines that give both the doctor and the patient what each needs.
We need a miracle.