Friday, February 27, 2009

Doctors: Good Source Of Free Healthcare

Times are tough and money is tight. Many of my clients have started spacing out their appointments more than is ideal. Some have disappeared altogether. The pharmacist across the street was telling me that people are starting to forgo their cholesterol meds.

One client left a voicemail to cancel an appointment, asking me to call her at the scheduled time so we could "just have a phone appointment instead." I returned her call, saying if she was feeling stable we could occassionally have shorter phone appointment in lieu of in-person meetings, but that the usual fees for my time would apply. This seemed to surprise her, as she asked why there would be a charge for "just checking in on the phone."

Hmm. Why? I guess for the same reason that take-out food isn't free?

But apparently this is a common idea. I was reading an article yesterday in Women's Day magazine (don't ask) entitled "How To Save $1,000's On Everything!". One suggestion was this: "CALL FOR YOUR FOLLOW-UP: It's common for a doctor to ask you to come back in a couple of weeks for a follow-up. Ask why this is necessary and whether a follow-up phone call will suffice. Usually it will, and you'll avoid the cost of a second visit."

Can I just say, obnoxious? How about instead: "Ask how much risk there would be from not having follow-up for the condition the doctor has just started treating you for, and then decide whether you'd rather pay for her help or take your chances with your health."


Anonymous s said...

This is so trashy. Especially since it's so rare that they are paying the full cost of the appointment anyway, it's just the copay. At least I assume that for readers of that magazine.

That said, I am very unstable now, and yet can't afford my shrink or other medical bills on a resident salary. And in my case, we aren't talking therapy for personal problems. Shortly, my contract will be up and I will be out of a job. I know that this shit is probably going to land me in a hospital for either physical or mental illness, yet there's just not that much I can do. I can't throw myself on the public mental health system without risking my license and also being forced to take drugs I'm not willing to take or be treated by the worst docs in a humiliating system.

It's just a shitty situation.

2/28/09, 1:53 AM  
Blogger Backdated said...

This week, a guy that I spoke to once or twice on an Internet dating site last year emailed me to ask if I would represent him for free on a legal issue. We literally have never met in person, and only communicate once or twice.

This seemed especially obnoxious since it was actually a business issue - at least if he'd been on the verge of losing custody of a kid or going to jail, I'd feel like some scrambling was warranted.

There are going to be shortfalls and scrimping all over the place, probably for a long time. I sincerely don't mind pitching in and doing some stuff for free, but I seem to care a lot about the *way* that I'm asked. Say that you're hard up, ask if we can work something out, but don't suddenly start casually pretending that what I do is effortless and should be free.

2/28/09, 11:31 AM  
Blogger Randall Sexton said...

Did you hear about the physician and lawyer talking at a party?

The physician was complaining about phone calls for help/advice and wanted to know what to do about it.

The lawyer told him to bill for his time. The physician thought that was a great idea.

Next day, the physician found a bill in his mailbox from the lawyer.

3/9/09, 1:49 AM  

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