Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Hidden Costs of Your Doctor Visit

Are parking fees, co-pays, plus the half-day’s wages you lose sitting in my waiting room keeping you from getting the health care you need?
by Dena Rifkin, MD

I was commiserating with a patient about the cost of parking at our medical center. Depending on the length of a visit, the ticket in the garage here can cost $5 to $10. Not a fortune, but if you need to see your doctor monthly, it adds up. “Ah, doctor,” she said, “this is the problem: It is too expensive to stay healthy!”

Her comment made me think again about co-payments, that $10, $15, or $25 you fork over to see someone like me even before your insurance company decides if it will cover your entire visit and all the tests you need.

The actual charge for the visit and associated tests is much more than that, of course, though people with health insurance rarely see the actual charge for the visit. So why does the co-pay exist, if it’s such a small fraction of the total cost? Continue reading »

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