Going to the doctor is often unpleasant. They often require that you make room in your busy schedule and sit in a crowded waiting room for a lengthy period of time, only to be rushed in and out and charged a hefty co-pay. Granted, not every trip to the doctor goes that poorly. There are many great doctors who are very accommodating of people’s schedules and don’t book more patients than they can dedicate adequate time to.
But of all the things that patients dislike about going to see the doctor, these practices may top the list. Here are 4 doctor’s office policies that annoy patients:
- Charging a fine for missing an appointment or cancelling with less than 24 hours notice. These fines can range from around $50 up to $500 for some specialists.
- Requiring a patient reschedule if late, even if only by 10 minutes
- Charging fees for having to fill out health forms for a patient’s work, school, or athletic teams, usually $10 and up
- Charging an annual administrative fee, which can range from $35-$120
Doctors say that charging these fees has become essential to staying afloat, citing the rising cost of operating their offices and the amount of time they spend on activities that insurance doesn’t reimburse them for, like making phone calls and refilling prescriptions.
As a result of the skyrocketing operation costs, there’s been a major drop in the number of medical students going into primary care. Instead, they’re opting to pursue more lucrative specialties where they can charge more for their services and see fewer patients. This trend is only exacerbating the primary care dilemma, causing a shortage of physicians, longer waiting times for patients, and a heavier caseload for the doctors.
So, while these policies may be annoying, they may also be necessary. Health care is changing rapidly, and we’re going to see many more drastic changes when the Affordable Care Act goes into effect next year, adding 30 million new patients to the already overburdened system.
That’s why it’s important to do your homework: read up on a doctor before becoming his/her patient. Read doctor reviews to find out what other patients say about the office policies, wait time, bedside manner and more. Then, weigh your options. After all, a yearly administrative fee may seem like a small price to pay for a doctor who provides the care you’re looking for.
Have you ever left a doctor because you disagreed with an office policy? Tell us about it below.