Hubby and I have been actively working over the last few months to keep up on our health by making doctors appointments, conducting routine physicals and getting our blood work done. I was tremendously surprised the other day when I made an appointment with my general physician and was informed that in order to be seen I would need to put down a $150 deposit. Say what?
You see, I was told that since I have a high deductible plan, I am expected to pay $150 in advance before ever stepping foot in my doctor's office. I finally was able to make someone in the office see reason and allow me to attend my physical sans the deposit since the appointment would eventually be 100% covered by my insurance. I was chastised that they would "waive it this one time but next time you will have to pay." I had questions, lots of questions. No one could answer them, so I took it up the chain of command until I talked to someone at the business office.
Apparently, the Medical Group we are with was recently purchased by Praxis Medical Group and this policy was implemented by them when the merger/takeover took place in July of this year. The policy states that if you have ANY deductible that hasn't been met, whether that be $500 or $5000, you are expected to pay a deposit of $150 up front. If you are a poor person off the street with no insurance, you pay a deposit of $150 up front to be seen by a doctor. What are the chances of getting that deposit back, you might ask? Zero to none. Most doctors visits cost $145-$500.
I went around in circles for awhile with the kind lady on the phone as she tried to explain the deposit was because "my insurance won't cover it until my deductible was met" and me saying "yes, I know, I understand that. Why can't I see my doctor and be billed after the appointment?" Finally I just politely but exasperatedly told her that I have an ethical dilemma with their policy. Not only am I not comfortable with paying for a service that I haven't yet received but this goes against everything the medical profession is supposed to stand for, in my opinion.
Does this feel as wrong to you as it does to me?
I have $150. I could pay it. But I won't. Because what about the people who can't?
While private physicians aren't legally required to accept patients who they think or know can't pay, this is on ethically shaky ground for me. Requiring anyone to pay such a large sum in advance in order to seek medical treatment creates a barrier that will PREVENT people from seeing a doctor. The mere idea that a doctor would withhold treatment until a credit card or check is handed over is an abomination.
We will be finding a different doctor with a different Medical Group. I told the lovely lady on the phone that. Because their policy is ethically unjustifiable. Hubby and I are powerless to change their policy but what we can do is not give them our money.