Doctor Holds Patient Hostage Until She Pays Her Bill

A doctor named John Drew Laurusonis and two of his assistants in Georgia have been accused of locking a woman in an examination room “when concerns arose about her ability to pay the bill.” The three were indicted last week on charges of false imprisonment for the October 4th, 2007 incident.

For several hours, the staff refused to allow her to leave, locking her in for periods of time, [her attorney Joseph] Fried said. They had her log into her bank records from a computer while she was there, he said. “They said, ‘Don’t you have anyone who loves you who can come and help you? Because you’re not leaving until this bill is paid,’ ” Fried said. “They made her feel like she was a criminal. She was made to feel like she couldn’t leave without something bad to happen to her.”

One reason the patient couldn’t pay was that she was charged nearly eight times more for the visit than she was initially told by clinic employees, from $98 to $755.

The patient, Frances Bales, was described as “less assertive than other people”—by her attorney, no less. We hope Bales remembers to bring a Taser or pepper spray to her next appointment. In fact, maybe all patients of Dr. Laurusonis should make sure friends and family know where they’re going and how long they expect to be gone, just in case there are any billing problems.

“Police: Clinic workers imprisoned patient who couldn’t pay” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution] (Thanks to Deborah!)
(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. MissTicklebritches says:

    Whatever happened to “first, do no harm”?

  2. whatdoyoucare says:

    This is just strange. It sounds like the doc and staff were sampling some of the pharmaceuticals for themselves ;).

  3. timsgm1418 says:

    my guess is she will be able to pay for anything she wants after taking him to court…and I say good for her

  4. nikki0081 says:

    Seem that would be an invasion of privacy making her log into her online bank account and why couldn’t they just bill her or setup a payment plan?

  5. Joedragon says:

    There may be a fire code violation if you can be locked in to rooms at the Clinic.

    Any way this need to blow up in to a big news store so more people can see how bad the us health system is.

  6. kublaconsumer says:

    Screw her. Something bad should have happened to her. Why is medical care any different than buying stuff at the store? She’s the criminal. Does she go eat at expensive restaurants and then say she didn’t think it’d be that much? She’d be arrested. But for some reason people think that medical care is a right. Why would anyone have a right to someone else’s labor, in this case the doctor?

  7. whatdoyoucare says:

    BTW, the picture is funny.

  8. Mike8813 says:

    Wow. That’s just awful.

  9. MissPeacock says:

    @kublaconsumer: Why don’t you RTFA or even this sentence on the Consumerist page?

    One reason the patient couldn’t pay was that she was charged nearly eight times more for the visit than she was initially told by clinic employees, from $98 to $755.

  10. mdoublej says:

    @kublaconsumer:
    Douche, hope you go to an expensive restaurant, get charged 8 times more than you thought it would be, and end up washing dishes for a year.

  11. vision646 says:

    @kublaconsumer: I agree completely. However I am a little curious as to why the cost was increased so drastically. And they probably should have called the cops instead of imprisoning her themselves, if for no other reason than so that they wouldn’t be sued later.

  12. Mr_Human says:

    @kublaconsumer: Let’s just assume you are a troll, and your comments require no point-by-point analysis.

  13. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @kublaconsumer: Troll McTrollypants.

    If you went to lunch intending to spend ten bucks, and the restaurant charged you more than 75 dollars and locked you in the storeroom until you paid and made you access your bank account through their computers (with who knows what keylogger software on them), I bet you’d be howling fit to hear across the state line. And not about “the restaurant’s right to get paid for their food.”

  14. rmz says:

    @kublaconsumer: We don’t have enough information. From the sound of it, she was told it would cost $98 (it depends on the manner in which this “estimate” was provided, however, but in any case being off by a factor of 8 is still probably outside the bounds of “reasonable accuracy”), then her card was charged $755 instead.

  15. gatopeligroso says:

    @kublaconsumer:

    “One reason the patient couldn’t pay was that she was charged nearly eight times more for the visit than she was initially told by clinic employees, from $98 to $755.”

    If you went to eat at a restaurant and your menu stated that a steak was 35.00 but when the bill came you were charged 280.00 for the steak, would you pay? I think not.

  16. whatdoyoucare says:

    @kublaconsumer: Did you read the entire story? She was told the appointment would cost $98. However, when she showed up they tried to charge her $755.

    I’m not saying that she shouldn’t have paid but she should only be charged the price she was quoted. If the doctor and/or staff had been forthright in the first place then she may not have made the appointment with them.

  17. sir_pantsalot says:

    That what she get for being a legal US citizen.

  18. Concerned_Citizen says:

    This lady was nuts if she thought x-rays were just going to be a “little more”. It would seem like there was a communication problem going on. The patient failed to ask what a procedure cost before hand and the doctor forgot to make sure the patient knew the price and could pay. The bill as it stands is 100% legit. They performed a service on her that was expensive.
    But if you didn’t validate ability to pay or the patient’s knowledge of the price before performing the service, that is your own damn fault. The doctor’s recourse is to bill the patient and send the bill to collection’s where this woman’s credit will be destroyed. He will never get paid and the patient will never be able to get a loan again.
    Yes, our system sucks.

  19. vgerik1234 says:

    Other than holding her for so long… She should have been forced to pay. Yes they way the doctor detained her was unorthodox, it would seem to me, that she didn’t have any money in the first place. Why would you go to the doctors let alone anywhere, KNOWING you do not have any money to pay for the service you are receiving.

  20. bobpence says:

    Clearly there was some miscommunication at some point. Yes, she may have _initially_ been told $98, but did she somehow mislead them when they told her the tests would be more? Non-emergency tests for an unisured patient are not on-the-house, after all, so perhaps her lack of assertiveness was misunderstood as expressing her ability to pay when (and if) she was told the tests would add to her total, which could have led to the later upset on the part of the small business owner who had already incurred costs due to the tests (that is, the doctor).

  21. kublaconsumer says:

    To all: If one asks the restaurant how much a dinner is and they say $98 but then you order tons of other stuff for $755…then one should expect to pay. If you go to the mechanic and they estimate a certain cost, but once they dig into the issue it’s more, then one should expect to pay. If you ask to have a remodel done, but then other issues are found that require more $ then one should expect to pay. If one goes to the doctor to have something looked at then it’s entirely possible that it could cost more to have it thoroughly looked at. In fact had the doctor not done a thorough job he could be sued. So really the victim here is the doctor. He’s forced to provide a service to someone without compensation. The fact that they detained her is no different than detaining a dime store thief.

  22. johnva says:

    @kublaconsumer: Wow. Regardless of whether she was in the right or not, we don’t imprison people in the U.S. for not paying their debts. And we certainly don’t let random people imprison someone for the same reason. And, it sounds like she wasn’t expecting, for whatever reason, it to cost so much. Instead of these high pressure tactics, the office should have offered to settle with her for a lower amount (since the amount they bill is so high only because the insurance companies pay such a small percentage anyway).

    That being said, who knows what actually happened.

  23. MissPeacock says:

    @vgerik1234: Wow. You refer to holding some hostage as being “unorthodox.” Just…amazing.

  24. teh says:

    @kublaconsumer: “One reason the patient couldn’t pay was that she was charged nearly eight times more for the visit than she was initially told by clinic employees, from $98 to $755.”

    If I went to a restaurant, ordered something off of the menu and then went to find out that the actual charge was 8 times the menu price, I probably wouldn’t be able to pay either. She was responsible and got a quote before receiving the services. If the price was going to rise substantially, the clinic also had a responsibility to make that clear.

  25. friendlynerd says:

    @kublaconsumer:
    I never thought anyone deserved to get sick and need medical attention but I think you just changed my mind.

  26. Bakkster_Man says:

    @kublaconsumer: Maybe the fact that “she was charged nearly eight times more for the visit than she was initially told by clinic employees, from $98 to $755″ had something to do with it.

    Besides, wouldn’t you detain the person only long enough for the police to arrive, assuming you believed it to be a theft of service? Seems this clinic decided to take matters into its own hands, maybe because they figured the police would notice they weren’t in the right about the issue?

  27. johnva says:

    @Concerned_Citizen: Yeah, he certainly does have recourse. That does not include physically holding someone against their will, taking their keys, etc. If someone tried to take my keys like that they would regret it.

  28. CaptainConsumer says:

    A little research goes a LONG way, see what they say about this guy on RateMD.com

    [www.ratemds.com]

    “Staff was incompetent..unable to draw bloodwork or properly hook up ekg leads. Performed procedures without explaining why necessary. When asked, stated “it’s protocal” however never checked pts. blood pressure or pulse when pt. presented with dizziness and fainting. After six “protocol” test informed patient they owed $2400.00.”

    ” I went to this doctor for PINK EYE! I told him I had no insurance when he came in the room after an hour. He didn’t say a word to me, put drops in my eyes and walked out and never came back. I went to pay…$400!!!! He is a fat, rude jerk if you ask me! “

    ” He uses already used needles, and has old medicine and tests that he uses for patients. I saw a nurse drop meds on the ground and pick it up and give it to another patient! He is very mean and yells at his staff and us. When I came in for a sore throat he charged me to have a strep test and a flu test along with a bunch of other things I don’t even think were necessary to charge me for. I will never come back or recommend him to my worst enemy! “

  29. SuffolkHouse says:

    Where is the doofus with the GOP elephant avatar to tell us, “Don’t go to the doctor if you can’t pay. It is implicit in the visit that you will pay! I wouldn’t have let her go either. They should have trenches out back for cheap and poor people alike!”

    Go McCain!

  30. aaydemi says:

    …unless you call the restaurant, ask them how much a hamburger costs, then actually go in and order a 10 course meal. many patients are vague at best with their complaints over the phone and MANY like to downplay their symptoms. then they see the doc and tell them this “simple fever” started a few days after having unprotected sex with a prostitute, and a few HIV, syphilis, hep B, CBC, chem panel, etc tests later and you can really rack up that bill. it’s not that she was charged 7 extra times, she was charged the equivalent of 8 times her “estimate”, which is exactly what it is, an estimate based on what you say. all that being said, locking her in the room and all that was definitely not the best way to go about it all.

  31. Bladefist says:

    @kublaconsumer: I was always easily the most hated person here. I see have I have some competition.

  32. whatNameIsLeft says:

    Regardless of what the price she was told and the price she was changed there is no reason she should have been locked in a room, much less log into her bank.

    I’m fairly sure that she will have no problems paying any of her bills after her lawyer gets his cut. I’d also guess that the doctor in question may be looking for a new career or at least someone on staff at the office.

  33. splendic says:

    @kublaconsumer: The difference between paying for healthcare, and say, buying a new car is that one is an option, not a necessity. However, as living beings when your health is in question your only option aside from getting care is illness and death.

    What if food suddenly became ten times as expensive as it is now?

    Would all the poor and middle class be allowed to die?

  34. Bladefist says:

    @SuffolkHouse: here I am!

  35. angryhippo says:

    @vgerik1234: You have got to be kidding me. Most normal people would have broken down the freakin’ door (I know I would) if in the same situation. Either call the cops (they didn’t, sounds like they knew where that would go) or bill her. Hold her or anyone against their will and it goes from a bill dispute to false imprisonment to a large settlement and possible jail time for the clinic workers involved.

  36. Bladefist says:

    @SuffolkHouse: Well I think you should have a plan on how to compensate the Dr before going there.

    However, being locked in is not appropriate. They have her information, they could deal with it through the appropriate channels later.

  37. timmus says:

    I recommend you all surf over to Google Local and leave a review about what happened: [local.google.com]

  38. Crymson_77 says:

    @kublaconsumer: actually it is very different. She has a right to freedom. She committed no crime. Had they advised her of the additional cost, I am sure this wouldn’t have been an issue. On top of that, they held her hostage. This could potentially be rung up to a kidnapping charge, which is federal by the way, as they were “extorting” money from her while denying her the right to freedom. This could be extraordinarily messy in short order.

  39. Pylon83 says:

    @kublaconsumer:
    To a point, I agree with you. I’m not sure the “shopkeepers” privilege would extend to this situation, but I do agree that there is no per se right to healthcare. She was essentially stealing from the Dr.’s office.

  40. TheBigLewinski says:

    I can’t wait until the judge throws the book at this asshole. He will get the imprisonment and proper raping that he deserves.

  41. vgerik1234 says:

    @SuffolkHouse: Are you stupid? Do you go to the doctors then say “Sorry I can’t pay, thanks for the service though”? They are vague on the reason exactly why she couldn’t pay other than she had no money. Just like kubalaconsumer said, do you go to a restaurant and order food then say “Oh I can’t pay”. This lawsuit is going to fail. A restaurant near where I live, does not let you leave till you pay. Whether it means call a family member and bring you money or what. It makes complete logical sense to not let someone leave till they pay.

    However, they way the explained how she was detained is sketchy. She was “locked up without the ability to leave”. That makes it seem way too harsh.

  42. agent888 says:

    Caveat Emptor

    As per Kublaconsumer’s analogy to a fancy restaurant: She went in, got the price for the entree and proceeded to order appetizers and deserts all the while expecting the price to remain the same. The office should have informed her of the rising costs per each extra service (tests) she received.

    Health care is often on an infinitely inelastic demand curve. Meaning no matter what the price, people will demand it. The 3rd party payor system (insurances / medicare & medicaid ) have built consumer mindsets in such a way.

    If consumers more readily paid the front end costs to health care, I bet they would shop for care based on price & quality. I also bet they would do more preventative care, since its cheaper to prevent than to treat.

  43. nikki0081 says:

    why wouldn’t they just bill her and if she couldn’t pay it. Detaing someone against their will is illegal and they should have at least called the police, which in my opinion is ridiculous. What about payment plans? I had a 1,000 hospital bill and was allowed to pay minimum oF $10 a month if I wanted to.

  44. ThinkerTDM says:

    She didn’t go in and order the extra tests. The doctor did. How many people actualy know what the doctor is ordering, and why? I know everybody here does, because you are all MD’s, but normal people don’t, and in fact, take the doctor at face value.
    I think it has already been established that this “doctor” was unethical, and probably doing illegal things, too.
    The real question is, how many others are there?

  45. garbagehead says:

    @CaptainConsumer: To the rescue, thanks for that. Cool website.

    PS: This story reminded me what problems Canadians avoid. Maybe it’s why their so much more laid back?

  46. @kublaconsumer: I hope someone locks you up. Go back and RTFA. She didn’t order “extra” services that jacked her bill up.

  47. jpx72x says:

    @kublaconsumer: Impressive flame. Bravo.

  48. Parting says:

    @kublaconsumer: She was quoted 98$, so it’s normal that she didn’t brought 1K$. Stop blaming the victim.

    A good doctor would have offered some payment plan, since the amount was 10 times that was quoted originally. Not keep patient hostage.

    I would love to see your troll’s reaction, if in an ”expensive restaurant” you were billed 10 times the price quoted to you before meal…

  49. kublaconsumer says:

    @Crymson_77: I agree that they should have detained her only until police arrived. But it is a criminal matter IMO. No different than ordering other services with no ability or intention of paying. It was her responsibility to clarify that more testing was addition cost…just like everyone verifies that refills are free before consuming 20 sodas.

    I don’t know why people, when they head into a doctors office, lose their ability to realize the costs of this stuff. (actually I do, just like agent888) Training doctors, developing equipment, etc, is expensive and time consuming.

    People should pay for all their health care just like they pay for their DirecTV and big tailpipes for their cars.

  50. kublaconsumer says:

    @Victo: I’m not blaming the victim…in this case it’s the doctor.

  51. Parting says:

    @garbagehead: The good thing, is that I know if I get some weird health condition while I’m retired, I won’ have to lose all my life savings, and live in my kid’s house, working until I’m dead, so I can have insurance to pay for my meds. I know there are a lot of things wrong with Canadian health system, but it all pales in comparison with USA’s.

  52. TropicalParadise says:

    Even if she did owe the money, say she was quoted for a hamburger and ordered a steak, the response of the staff was unreasonable.

    What they should have done would be to offer her a payment plan where she pays what she can now, and then the rest at monthly increments with interest.

    This is after they explain why it was so much more than quoted, and that this extra quote was reasonable. Then, they would make more money and while the patient wouldn’t be happy, they would have to reluctantly agree.

  53. Parting says:

    @agent888: When my friend’s cat got sick, and her VETERINARY had to run extra tests. Well he was HUMAN enough to tell her : ”I know your cost is a lot higher that fist quoted, and you told me you cannot pay on the spot. Here what we can do…” She got 1 year payment plan, with only 9% interest. For her CAT.

    So tell me, why the doctor could not offer something similar, instead of imprisoning his patient, and using mafia’s tactics to get her to pay?

  54. dragonfire1481 says:

    I am really starting to think the health care system in this country is fucked beyond all repair. It’s driven by greed, heartless doctors and clinics who care more about making money than helping patients.

    Seriously the Hippocratic oath is worth nothing these days.

  55. angryhippo says:

    I love this quote too: “They said, ‘Don’t you have anyone who loves you who can come and help you? Because you’re not leaving until this bill is paid,’ ” Fried said.

    Oh sweet baby Jesus, to be getting that call that they were doing this to someone I knew… Actually I would hope that if this was happening to someone I knew they would call their “loved one” at 911.

  56. Myrddraal says:

    Flat out what the clinic did was illegal. End of story.

    Yes she should have checked out her ability to pay before she accepted the services and yes she is breaking the law by stealing from the doctor but that does not make it okay for the doctor to break the law.

    If someone cuts you off in traffic it is not okay to shoot them.

  57. mandiejackson says:

    aren’t there state- and county-funded programs to help people pay medical bills? and aren’t there free clinics?

  58. Juggernaut says:

    #1 the doctor does need to be compensated
    #2 anyone locks me in a room – they better have the police, EMT’s, Fire Dept, etc. on the way because there’s about to be a whole lot of physical damage done to property and persons

  59. mandiejackson says:

    god, i am so fucking glad i work for the government.

  60. Parting says:

    @kublaconsumer: The fact that she let her being detained, means it’s probably elder person. So tell me, why can’t a doctor offer a repayment plan?

    If you can get a loan for plastic surgery, why not for medical tests?

  61. Speak says:

    @CaptainConsumer: Nice digging. I’ve been shocked too when receiving medical bills. I’ve since learned to always ask if a procedure is necessary and whether or not it’ll be covered by insurance.

    The difference between this situation and eating out at a restaurant is that there’s no menu for the consumer to refer to. The doctor charges one amount, the insurance company claims a “reasonable” charge. What the doctor deems medically necessary may not seem that way to the insurance company.

    Insurance aside, hospitals can still make errors in billing. Patients should request an audit of their hospital bill if the charges seem excessive. I wish I could find this article that I read, but the author had someone’s bill audited and found that the hospital had overcharged the patient by several thousands of dollars.

  62. parad0x360 says:

    @vgerik1234: One HUGE difference is a Doctors office has your name, address and phone number on file, they require it before they will treat you. The restaurant does not have any such info so if they let you leave they never see money.

    Also the Doctor could have easily called the police and had this resolved in 30 min instead of locking her in a room for hours on end.

  63. SinisterMatt says:

    @Joedragon:

    How is this indicative of the entire U.S. health care system? Could you explain that to me? This appears to me to be an isolated incident. I’ll agree that some things need fixing in our health care system, but using a single case in this manner is not evidence for completely overhauling the system into something like socialized medicine. At any rate, I think that those who want to already believe that the U.S. system is completely bad are already convinced due to such “documentaries” as Sicko, etc.

    It’s interesting, though, that they physically detained her. Usually you have the option of having them bill you later via mail. If you don’t pay within a certain time frame, they turn it over to collections, where you get to talk to Guido. I’ve never even heard of them making you pay at the office, unless it’s like a co-pay.

    Cheers!

  64. Parting says:

    @kublaconsumer: The moment he used coercive tactics, he became the abuser. Also, there a lot of state funded plans, so patients can pay back doctor’s bills.

    How difficult is it to offer repayment plan, and collect your bill AND interest on the payment? It’s better than losing your money, losing you reputation and being regarded as a douche bag in its community.

  65. picardia says:

    You’re not allowed to imprison someone for debt. I mean, the government can’t do that. Your doctor certainly can’t. From the sound of it, the price went up rather dramatically, and if the doctor didn’t check on that before adding the x-rays or extra procedures, that’s the office’s ineptitude. She might have expected to pay more with more procedures, but hell, I wouldn’t have had nearly $1K in hand either. For situations like this (and they do arise in healthcare), doctor’s offices ought to have standard procedures for dealing with insurance/payment plans/etc. — imprisoning someone is NOT acceptable.

  66. Ninjanice says:

    This doctor really sounds like a douchebag and there is no excuse for how this woman was treated. They had no right to detain her and should have letthe policxe deal with it if they felt she was stealing from them. That being said this woman is old enough to know that things cost money (and she even said that she figured her X-rays would be extra). She should have asked how much the X-rays would be before they were performed. People don’t generally buy anything without knowing the price first (whether it’s groceries, a car, etc.), so why would you do that at the doctor’s office? Healthcare doesn’t come cheap, even with insurance.

  67. stinerman says:

    @mdoublej: @rmz: @gatopeligroso: @whatdoyoucare: @johnva: @teh: @friendlynerd: @Bakkster_Man: @splendic: @Crymson_77: @silencedotcom: @Victo:

    You have been trolled.

    @kublaconsumer:

    Excellent troll, sir.

  68. stinerman says:

    @Bladefist:

    Yeah, people must really hate you since you have a star at the end of your bar.

  69. kublaconsumer says:

    Credit is the domain of banks, not doctors offices. Offering repayment plans will add additional costs, such as interest, collections, etc, on top of the technical doctor fees that so many say are “too much”.

  70. flipx says:

    MissTicklebritches not to be rude or condescending but it is collect the money and hope you do no harm.

  71. EyeHeartPie says:

    @Victo: Actually, the article says she was 36 when this happened.

  72. Trai_Dep says:

    I wish there were more commentators from France and other “Old European” countries. Just so they could giggle, point and then gather themselves sufficiently to sympathetically shake their heads at us. As they head out to their 6-week, paid summer vacations.

    I hope the clinic people see jail time out of this.

  73. mythago says:

    What were they going to do, keep her imprisoned forever? Were they going to charge her rent and meals for her imprisonment? I know there are probably Internet trolls who get paid by the ILR to post, but the “doctors can do no wrong” trolling seems dumb even by their standards.

  74. TheNerd says:

    Is this the future of American health care? People’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness being dependant upon their wealth?

  75. R3PUBLIC0N says:

    Thank god I live in Vermont. If I was locked in a room and held against my will, people would leave in a goddamn box.

  76. bohemian says:

    Doctors offices and hospitals should be required by law to have available an entire price list by medical code number at the door like picking up a take out menu. Yes, I know sometimes a code can have a price range or multiple instances but that can be listed also.

    Clinics and hospitals hold their prices like they are a trade secret. But at the same time were all supposed to be “health consumers” and health care is a consumer product not a right or necessity. Put them on a menu board behind the reception desk.

    Either give me national health insurance with 100% coverage or make the costs transparent. No other industry would get away with this.

  77. patodonnell39 says:

    How can you possibly make all these assumptions about how she “ordered more tests?” If your bill multiplies by 8 times, you should be told ahead of time what it will be, regardless of if you’re at the doctor’s office, or the mechanic or whatever. If they didn’t tell her, that’s their fault. If they did tell her, it’s still their fault because you can hold people hostage. Period.

  78. bohemian says:

    @TheNerd: Pretty much.

  79. sean77 says:

    @CaptainConsumer: You gotta take those ratemd stories with a grain of salt. Half those stories would be malpractice lawsuits if they were real.

    [www.gaphysicianprofile.org]

    according to the georgia state board, his license is clean. No malpractice lawsuits, no disciplinary action, nothing.

  80. alejo699 says:

    Simply put: Citizens do not have the right to detain other citizens. This is a crime. With some exceptions — you can make a citizen’s arrest if you witness a felony. Being unable to pay a bill is not a felony.
    If the story occurred as the article describes, the doctor is in deep shit.
    Should people have to pay their bills? Yes. Should healthcare be provided at no cost? No. Is the doctor in the wrong? Very.

  81. kublaconsumer says:

    @TheNerd: You think you have a right to force someone to serve you?

  82. vgerik1234 says:

    @sean77: Heads up… EKG’s are expensive 1k at least. I had one for my heart due to Pericarditis (blame mono not being treated). Where I was, the EKG was about $2000.. for the first one.. by the end of my 5 hours stay at the hospital, the bill came to be $10k without insurance.. insurance covered nearly all of it.

  83. donkeyjote says:

    yet

  84. Mudpuddle says:

    Dang this takes customer service to a new level.
    I wonder just how long they thought they could keep her, …crazy stuff.

  85. donkeyjote says:

    @alejo699: Not paying for a service in excess of 250 dollars could be a felony, depending on the state. Citizen’s arrest for misdemeanors can also be legal, depending on the state.

    Also, shopkeeper’s privilege does not apply to services render, only material products.

  86. agent888 says:

    @Victo: First off let me say that I was in no way advocating that imprisonment was the correct course of action.”If” there were clear signs that say “all debts must be settled before leaving this office” then she should have expected flack for not being able to pay for accumulated services beyond the normal 98$ check up.

    FTA: “Staffers at the clinic in a busy Duluth shopping center”…This makes me believe that its what we refer to as a “Doc in the box” retail clinic. They often do require money upon completion if no insurance is available.

    If signage regarding completion of payment was clear and if the patient was informed of incurring costs from more tests (which she does have the right to refuse if she cant afford) then the legal question here is does the physician have that shop keeper’s privilege as other retailers

    Physicians don’t have to offer payment plans. As a consumer you have the right to shop between those who do, and those who don’t.

  87. Landru says:

    I had a doctor once come into the waiting room and started yelling at me because the claim from my previous visit (for $300) had been rejected. The room was full of other patients. She demanded to know how I was going to pay, that it was very serious and implied I wasn’t leaving until it was paid. I was intimidated and wrote a check on the spot. Turned out later that it was rejected because she had submitted it wrong. I never went back. She was such a bitch that it was worth the $300 never to speak to her again. Wimpy, I know.

  88. macinjosh says:

    All these restaurant analogies are making me hungry… I’m goin’ to lunch

  89. ztoop says:

    We should remember that we live in a society that doesn’t imprison those who have debts. That is why the mortgage crisis is not turning into a prison crisis. If the doctors office performed a service without payment beforehand or collateral, then the best they can do is send her a bill.

  90. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @kublaconsumer:

    I hope an anvil falls on you.

  91. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @kublaconsumer:
    I hope an anvil falls on you.

    @sir_pantsalot:
    Horribly accurate statement.

  92. girly says:

    @kublaconsumer: most cafeteria worker workers would tell you refills weren’t free if they saw you indulging even if you didn’t ask…so couldn’t we expect the ‘trained doctor’ to be more informative about the cost of services?

    Why did they get so protective AFTER giving her the services and not before? I guess they were afraid she wouldn’t purchase them otherwise if she knew the price? Pretty shady business practice.

  93. girly says:

    Actually, I wonder if an exploitive racket has been exposed. Was there any expert opinion on whether she needed the services given, and the rate that was charged for them? Whether it is normal practice to not inform of additional charges?

  94. Skankingmike says:

    Last time I checked humans deserve medical treatment regardless of payment something about human rights.

    A fancy steak diner is not quite the same as corrective medical procedures.

    And besides most doctors are on a bill you later system. though not a contract, it falls under the implied contract statue, if you can reasonably assume that payment addressed after a service is provided and after the patient left the building than you have already set up a quasi contract that is expected by the consumer of said services.

    The doctor should be sued and then removed of any license and the other people the same (whatever they had, nurse janitor whatever.)

  95. ClayS says:

    It seems unusual that a doctor’s office is providing an estimate of cost upfront, but if that is the case, it would be reasonable for them to inform the patient if the charges are going to be significantly higher than the original figure.

  96. afrix says:

    wow….some of you are just plain farked out.

  97. lawmage says:

    Hmmm. I don’t know about Georgia, but in my state it’s legal to use lethal force to prevent/stop at kidnapping. Good thing for the doctor she wasn’t armed.

  98. mstarot says:

    I had a physician pull the old bait n switch about 25 yrs ago. Went in because of laryngitis and after a 2 hr wait-yes 2 hrs. Was hustled into exam room-after the std exam, I was told he had a new machine w/scope that could view my vocal cords. No mention of how much this cost-hey I had insurance-anyways long story short i go to pay my $25 office visit and it turned into a $450 visit which they wanted NOW-told them noway-submit to insurance-oh insurance doesn’t cover this machine it’s new. Bottom line i found out a few months later-was dr and his honey receiptionst were dealing drugs and he got busted and did some federal time.
    oh yeah after only making 2 pmts received letter from his office stating that the “balance was forgiven”. Bet his attorny had him write those letters.

  99. boosterts says:

    Did not one go to the original link?

    Read some of the comments there. It sounds like a lot of people have had shady experiences with this guy.

    I have no idea what the law is relating to medical expenses, but I have heard things like interest isn’t collectable on medical bills. A collection agency isn’t permitted to charge interest on any medical debt. There may or may not be other restrictions, but I think there is definitely a special handling of these debts in the law. This isn’t equivilant to dine and dash at all even if the charges were made clear.

  100. yagisencho says:

    “I do agree that there is no per se right to healthcare…”

    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights begs to differ.

  101. echodog says:

    I can’t believe some of you have the nerve to blame the patient! She was given an estimate of $98. It’s not like she had the visit and then didn’t have the $98 to cover the bill. If the Dr had said the bill was $150 one would understand that the $98 was only an estimate. To do what this Dr did was unexcuseable.
    I have the unenviable position of living in America with a chronic disease (Crohn’s Disease) a few years ago, I had to have 10 minor surgeries within a 14 month period. Each time, I was checked in through the ER and so insurance covered the bills. The most that the Insurance company paid was about $3500. At my last surgery, I was asked if I could hold out until the next day when they could schedule it. I told them I could put up with the pain. Turns out that because it wasn’t through the ER the Dr wouldn’t accept insurance. I was quoted $2,500. I had been putting some money away for a rainey day and this was it.
    A few weeks later I received a bill for an additional $18,000 (18 thousand) dollars. In a million years it never occurred to me that this would happen. Tell me there was a little more to do and the bill was 25% more- I get that. But 9 times what I was quoted? Bullshit. I called the Dr and the billing department said there was more work to do this time. Funny. 10 surgeries in a year and the oNLY bill that was over $3500 was the one that wasn’t sent to the insurance company. Now the idiots who are blaming the paiteint will say that the insurance company was billed just like I was. WRONG. THe bill was for $4-5,000 and the Dr was paid $3000. THe insurance company was never billed $20,000. The Dr spent the same amount of time in the OR with me this time as he had in all the previous times (about 20 minutes) So is it my fault? Apparently it is. I have no recourse in fighting a bill with a Dr so I was paying it off $100 a month which is all I can afford. THey sent me to collections anyway. SO to anyone thats blaming the patient – I hope you have the pleasure of having a chronic condition and have to figure out to pay your medical bills

  102. FeuerrotBenz says:

    Looks like this isn’t the first time he has demanded payment before the patient has left. A quick google search shows some very bad and very good reivews of him:

    [www.ratemds.com]

  103. DallasPath says:

    @bohemian:

    “”Doctors offices and hospitals should be required by law to have available an entire price list by medical code number at the door like picking up a take out menu. Yes, I know sometimes a code can have a price range or multiple instances but that can be listed also.

    Clinics and hospitals hold their prices like they are a trade secret. But at the same time were all supposed to be “health consumers” and health care is a consumer product not a right or necessity. Put them on a menu board behind the reception desk.””

    Actual the reason that pay schedules are such a closely held secret is that INSURANCE companies do not give out their reimbursement schedules, even to doctors contracted with them. If doctors made their rate schedules available, insurance companies would collect them all and use them to force reimbursement rates even lower, thus making even more profit for the insurance companies.

    What complicates the issue at hand (alleged imprisonment for non-payment) is medical malpractice. If I take my car to a mechanic to find out what is wrong with it, they are going to charge me for their services. If I have it fixed and refuse to pay, they will not let me have my car back until I pay. If they tell me what is wrong and I decline to have it fixed and leave, I cannot sue them when my car breaks down a week later.

    The opposite is true in medicine. If you go to the doctor complaining of arm pain, they are going to work you up for arm pain. If they do not, it is malpractice. If they tell you that you need to be worked up with X-rays and you decline and leave, thanks to our wonderful legal system the doctor CAN STILL BE SUED.

    There are laws in place to ensure that life threatening emergencies are treated without regard to payment. This WAS NOT a life-threatening emergency, it was arm pain. According to the article, the clinics payment policy was made clear to the woman. They were probably also concerned about her being from out of state. I definitely do not condone imprisoning someone, but I would be interested to see if she has other unpaid medical bills.

  104. Xerloq says:

    @johnva: Agreed. When they asked if I had someone who could help me, I’d say “Sure,” ask for a phone, then call the police.

  105. Eoghann says:

    @yagisencho: I’ve read through our entire Constitution, the supreme law of our land, and I don’t see any “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” in there anywhere.

  106. bohemian says:

    @sean77: In many states the board is not a good indicator of a doctor’s competence or if he has injured patients or not.
    Malpractice is pretty hard to find a lawyer to take in some places. It usually has to have a massive potential payoff so many never even make it to being a formal case.
    Many of the issues mentioned by other patients could have either not been sent to the board or the board purposely took no formal action. Many people just don’t have the first clue how to find the state agency, file a complain or end up feeling what was done to them isn’t worth the large amount of hassle pushing a complaint. Many state medical boards have a policy of trying to handle complaints “off record” first. This means there will be no record of the complaint unless the board is so pissed about it THEY want to take punitive action on another doctor. Our state medical board is specifically set up this way. There are a couple of well known screw ups local doctors have done and even lawsuits against them yet their medical board record is squeaky clean. IIRC our state medical board takes about one written action a year.

  107. DallasPath says:

    If she wanted medical care given without anyone questioning her ability to pay, she could have gone to the ER. I imagine the wait to be seen for a complaint of arm pain to be 10 to 12 hours on a good day.

  108. plural_of_moose says:

    @sean77: While it’s clean for now, if he gets a criminal conviction (kidnapping, extortion, etc..), that license sheet might get a little more interesting…

    “Georgia Medical License Revocations: D-bag doctor-> License suspended for not less than 2 years: felony conviction-kidnapping. $5,000 fine”

    As an aside, could someone tell me how to have the “@namhere” bit link to the person? I’m feeling astoundingly stupid not being able to get it to work

  109. CharlieInSeattle says:

    @kublaconsumer: You might actually try reading the article, she was quoted one price and charged another.

  110. bohemian says:

    @mstarot: I had something like that happen. I went in to get a script for seasonal allergy meds because it was spring. Doc wants to use his brand new CT scanner to look in my head “just in case”. Never mind I have an allergy flare up every May when things bloom and have had for 30+ years. I say no. He tells me insurance will cover it. I ask to get it pre-approved. They come back and tell me gosh your deductible will kick in so you have to pay this out of pocket. I ask how much this scan is. They tell me it is $900.
    Then they have the audacity to act like I am declining life saving emergency care by not having a freaking CT scan I don’t need. By this point they have the doctor, nurse, medical student and the billing office person all in this exam room or crowded around the door. WTF?

  111. @SuffolkHouse: He’s having lunch with the “My Tax Dollars!” guy. ;-)

  112. what’s the point of having insurance if this douchebag makes you pay upfront? dur dur, that’s what co-pays are for. i’m sort of glad i belong to an HMO

  113. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @Eoghann:

    Last time I checked we were still party to the United Nations. So guess what? According the little bit about treaties in our Constitution, we are beholden to uphold that Declaration.

    So, nice try weasel. I’ll leave whether we should even be in the UN as an exercise and argument for someone else.

  114. what kind of douchebag establishment makes you pay the whole bill up front? isn’t that what insurance companies are for? is that doctor that incompetent that he thinks he’s not going to get reimbursed by the insurance company? most doctor’s offices will redirect you to a free clinic if you can’t pay the amount of the bills. i’ve never been to a doctor and had to pay the bill up front. this guy sucks.

  115. curse the slow commenting machine!

  116. SuffolkHouse says:

    @Bladefist:
    What if you don’t have means to pay for anything because you are tapped out, but go in anyway hoping to arrange the payment afterward.

    Here’s a for-instance. My uncle was a good American. He took handouts from no one. He started his adult life, like so many others, paying into a pension fund and with good insurance. His company went belly-up and the owners pilfered the pension fund. He was left with nothing.

    He took a job with a funeral home outside of Chicago. This paid his way, but offered no benefits. Some 20 years into the job, he goes to an eye doctor with blurred vision. Doctor diagnoses no eye problem, and sends him on his way with a bill. He arranges to pay the bill in increments. A week later, he passes out at home. Whacks his head. Doesn’t go to the doctor because he already has an outstanding bill. A week later, he does of a diabetic heart attack. Never knew he had it. It was diagnosed after he died.

    Here was a guy thinking rationally and not sponging off of the system. Simple as that. My uncle is dead now. Your taxes are low. You win.

  117. SuffolkHouse says:

    @vgerik1234:

    No. It makes terrible sense to not let someone leave. It is termed “false imprisonment.” Your right to the money can be disputed in another forum. You have no right to keep someone prisoner.

    Would you like to argue against that?

  118. Myrddraal says:

    @SuffolkHouse: Sad story but it doesn’t really have anything to do with… well anything that has been discussed.

    I am calling this a Troll.

    I feel bad for what happened to your uncle but he wasn’t held hostage by a doctor or refused treatment because he was uninsured or anything. He just didn’t go in to a doctor.

  119. erratapage says:

    There is no shop-keeper’s privilege here. The shop-keeper’s privilege is based certain protections inherent in a retail shoplifting case. First, the material shoplifted was either discovered on or about the person being detained. Second, the transaction value is readily ascertainable by a price-tag or signage. Third, even in the case of a shop-keeper, the privilege only extends so long as police are called within a reasonable length of time.

    In this case, there is no external proof of theft of services. Doctors do not post price lists. They do not give estimates. There are no signed work orders.

    Even worse, rather than call the police, which is required of all retailers upon detention of a suspected shoplifter, this doctor never called the police. Retailers are not permitted to detain an individual until payment is made–but only until the authorities arrive.

    I have lengthy retainer agreements with my clients, setting forth the basis of my invoices. Perhaps this physician should have some document setting forth his right to bill the amounts he bills, especially since his clients are sick and at least in the case of this particular patient, an unsophisticated consumer.

    To all those who believe this patient got what she deserved for not asking questions, consider how you would feel if the most vulnerable of your friends or relatives were treated like this lady was. Maybe it’s easy for me, since I know many vulnerable consumers.

  120. Wet_Baloney says:

    @kublaconsumer:

    Screw YOU buddy! Although my sympathy for deadbeats is fairly limited, last I heard, kidnapping was illegal in all 50 states, as well as Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

  121. zed0 says:

    only in America, this is so sad

  122. ThyGuy says:

    Okay, I’m baffled. I see a lot of you fuckers defending the doctor for holding someone against their will are the same people who REFUSE TO SHOW THE RECEIPT, and would have a tantrum if they tried to restrain you. There is NO difference in the crime, but this is alright because she owes money?

    What the fuck is wrong with you people?

  123. Difdi says:

    To use the restaurant analogy…

    Suppose you go to a restaurant, describe to the waiter what you want, and are quoted a price. You agree to pay that price, and the waiter starts bringing you food.

    In fact, the waiter brings you more than you thought you ordered. When you ask about it, the waiter says it’s all part of the service, and to trust his judgement as a food services professional. You mentally shrug and go along with the professional.

    After you finish eating, you’re presented with a bill for 8 times the price you were quoted. The waiter insists that you received additional food and services that were not covered by your original order or the price quoted at that time. The waiter further informs you that you won’t be allowed to leave until you pay, and locks you into a room until you provide payment.

    While trying to negotiate your release, you are coerced into providing banking details so the wait staff can log into your bank account. Said account is insufficient to pay the bill, so you remain imprisoned.

    The wait staff tells you to call family for them to come pay for you…and you don’t have anyone to call, so you remain locked up.

    I know that if I got a call from a family member that said “I’m being held prisoner until you come and pay them money” my response would be a 911 call, not a payment.

    The best working test of whether you are being legally detained under Shopkeeper’s Privilege or being kidnapped is whether the detainer calls the police immediately.

    Being held for hours and ordered to call family members to get them to pay for your release is not Shopkeeper’s Privelge…it’s kidnapping — a capital crime.

  124. Nev-in-NYC says:

    To piggyback off Difdi’s comment, and while it’s been said before that actions of the doctor and his staff also amount to false imprisonment, a civil claim entitling the woman to damages. Sue him and the staff and the damages given by the jury should be more than sufficient to cover the bill…

  125. MrEvil says:

    Able to pay or not, the patient owed a debt and debtor’s prisons are Unconstitutional. You cannot be imprisoned for owing any debt. You can have property seized and have wages garnished, but you cannot be jailed for failing to pay a debt.

    The doctor should have let the patient go and then sicced whatever collection agency he employs to get the rest of the money.

  126. baristabrawl says:

    Maybe this was just what she deserved? Maybe she used to flaunt it in their faces that she wasn’t going to pay her bill. Maybe she was just a complete pain in the ass patient.

    Right, so then you stop seeing her. If you don’t pay your bill, then there’s no reason you have to see a patient. In IN you have to give them a 30 day notice that they’ve been “fired” as your patient. You do not coerce your employees into locking her into an exam room.

    If she is a danger to herself, you or your staff and other patients then you call the police and an ambulance and have her committed for 72 hours.

  127. girly says:

    @ThyGuy: Well, I’m not an ‘effer’ but I do agree that if you are against illegal detention in one case you should be in a case like this, too.

    Holding people for refusing to prove they own an item they’ve already purchased is illegal, as is holding someone to extort payment.

    There are legal ways to receive any money that is rightfully owed to you.

    As I said though, it does seem like it could some kind of scam for a doctor like this to sell unnecessary services, overcharge, or oversell and then hold the patient for ransom.

  128. AlexPDL says:

    @johnva: You are right we do not “imprison people in the U.S. for not paying their debts.” However, we do imprison people for theft. IF the person turns out to be a “thief” then the imprisonment is justified. This is comparable to a shoplifter being held by a rent a cop at a mall until the real police arrive and make the actual arrest. False imprisonment can work against rent a cops, police, and the nut job doctor in this case.

  129. Angiol says:

    @Eoghann: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a document created by the UN and which the United States has signed. Article 25 states in part:

    Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services

    .

  130. Angiol says:

    Also, scam idea: overcharge the patient, then say “Ok, you can pay using this computer over here.” Keylog the computer and steal their identity.

  131. godlyfrog says:

    Did I just miss it in the article, or does it never actually say how the patient was able to leave? Did someone pay? Did the office finally let her go? They said she was rather meek, so I suspect she’d have died from starvation before leaving on her own accord or escaped in righteous indignation. How did she finally get out?

  132. drdom says:

    Once again, we blame the victim. The clinic and the physician are just trying to make a living. Medicine is not like having your car repaired. You can’t just “get an estimate” without a medical professional making some preliminary determination of what a patient is going to need. Even basic triage costs money. Plus, as has been noted by others, overhead, malpractice and liability coverage all cost money.

    Physicians and staff all have bills to pay too. We assume the charges were unreasonable without hearing all of the facts.

    Diagnostic procedures, x-rays and examinations are different for each patient, and whatever it is they present with. Additionally, the physician did not physically restrain her. Plus, this whole “less assertive than other people” thing sounds odd, and like only one side of the story is being told, and a picture being painted, without regard for facts. I would trust a physician over a plaintiff’s attorney with an oddball story any day of the week.

  133. RetailGuy83 says:

    @CharlieInSeattle: Why don’t you going try reading the fucking article. Go on, READ THE FUCKING ARTICLE, Damn it, how many people are going to say this that DIDN’T and clearly didn’t read the article.

    Keeping the woman there, locked up in the broom closet was truly awful, but the Doctor didn’t just make up the charges. SHE ASKED FOR THEM!!!

    So, everyone who is about to post some BS like “they just jacked it up 8 times the price, I like lucky charms because the clovers are laced with LSD”

    YOU GO READ THE FUCKING ARTICLE!!!!!

  134. timsgm1418 says:

    @dragonfire1481: a lot of the problem with health care in the US is the patients that demanded everything under the sun be covered by insurance. The doctors are not generally the ones at fault. When I first started working in the late 70′s I didn’t pay a cent for my health insurance, the employer covered it all. However I had a deductible, and checkups were not covered, nor were vaccines. Even having to pay out of pocket for those expenses it was relatively cheaper than today. We only have ourselves to blame for the ridiculous law suits, and demanding that everything is covered by insurance.
    Regardless of the situation though, this doctor had no right to hold the patient. I hope he gets sued, for a lot, this is one of the few times I hope the patient gets a lot of money so this doctor can’t afford to practice.

  135. timsgm1418 says:

    @Xerloq: exactly what I would do too

  136. kublaconsumer says:

    @Angiol: Calling food, clothing, housing and medical care a right demonstrates a total lack of understanding what “rights” are. Those items are undoubtedly created by other humans, and so to say one has a right to them is to say one has a right to someone elses labor. In a free world one person has no right to another person’s labor. The fact that the UN has such a document is truly frightening.

  137. veterandem says:

    @kublaconsumer: You must be SOOOO rich, the way you say “that so many say are “too much”” about the doctors technical fees. She had no insurance like 47M other of your fellow citizens (although your obviously rich, so your fellow citizens comprise about 3M based on the last census).
    So now that the dollar is worth shit, healthcare costs rising at a double digit rate the goods are not a non-renewable resource, they are static, as should the price be as well. And before you start arguing technology, the basic services at a typical doctor office are X-Ray (been around since the early 20th Century, and the amortization on that equipment is well known in the medical community.), basic bacteria tests (Gram Stain, Strep, etc) and those lights they use to look into your nose and eyes. Very few doc-in-a-box have the latest PET/CAT scanning equipment. So add to that the economy getting the shit flogged out of it by GDub & Co., even the rich (that’s you) are going to feel the pain as well.

  138. girly says:

    It wasn’t life threatening. They could have treated the arm at face value. What seems scammy to me about this is that they did not dig in their heels about payment before adding the extras

    Say what you will, but many doctors will offer treatment *options* especially if you are uninsured.

  139. Invalid_User_Name says:

    There are alternatives to kidnapping. At the very least, there would be small claims court, but I do hope that these medical office workers are put in the pokey. We’ll need a follow up to this story.

  140. MPHinPgh says:

    @kublaconsumer: Unless my sarcasm detector is on the fritz, you are, clearly, and idiot.

    Since when does getting health care fall into the same category as dining at an expensive restaurant.

    Don’t bother answering that…my brain is alrady hurting from the sheer stupidity of your remark.

  141. pigeonpenelope says:

    they should do what all others do. if she can’t pay her bill, send her to collections.

    there is never ever an excuse to do what was done to this woman.

  142. mbilder says:

    There are not only civil and criminal, but professional sanctions as well. This guy, if we’ve heard the whole story, is in very deep.

    Re: docs (I am one) and price lists. This info should be freely available from your insurer. I know Medicare makes this info available to beneficiaries. But when there are dozens of insurers, all with different schedules for the dozens of fees, and many with multiple fee schedules for multiple plans, it is impossible to manage. When we bill your insurer, we send them a code for the work we did, along with a diagnosis code justifying out services. We don’t bill them a set dollar amount, because we don;t necessarily know what it is. They (sometimes accurately) tell us what they’ll pay, and yes, just like credit card companies, they change terms and reimbursements at will. We can’t quote fees because it might take an hour or more to look it up, if the data is available at all.

    In addition, any number of diagnoses, each requiring different levels of skill, decision-making, and risk to manage may account for your blurry vision or sore back. We cannot afford to miss a bad diagnosis, both for the sake of patients’ health and our legal exposure. Sometimes this requires more work than the patient or doc anticipated.

    It’s unfortunate this guy charged his “usual fee” to this woman; many docs will, for example, charge (substantially lower) Medicare rates for uninsured patients.

    There is much venting of spleens at M.D.s here. But there are ways to make a lot more $ for a lot less investment of years, cash, and sweat, and much less hassle, not to mention the fact that most of us care very much about what we do. So this guy behaves reprehensibly. I know of a few others. But most of us don’t, and a broad brush is too often used in comments on Consumerist.

  143. echodog says:

    I can’t believe some of you! This isn’t going to a mechanic or a restaurant. THis is medical care. Call it a right or don’t I think anyone living in this country deserves health care regardless of how much money that have. THis issue pisses me off. A Dr can charge whatever he want- I won’t argue that fact. WHen a bill is much larger than originally quoted, is it that unreasonable to set up a payment plan?
    My $2,500 bill became $20,000. That was just for the surgeon. I can’t fight it. I have no recourse. I got robbed. I have accepted that. If I had woken up from surgery to have that bill shoved in my face I don’t know what I would have done.
    THey could have collected the $98 originally quoted and set up a payment plan. For those of us that are struggling to keep afloat, $700 is a lot of money. I don’t want to hear the assholes that are saying that your stealing from the Dr. I didn’t ask to get sick and I deserve to be healthy just like those of you that don’t go to the Dr. The doctor was an ass. He could have taken what she had and hired a bill collector.

  144. Blackneto says:

    @bohemian: Re: your allergy visit.
    That kind of thing is why i’m looking for another Dentist.
    Everytime I was there they kept trying to sell me something extra, even after I told them to stop.
    Push came to shove when my wife agreed to some kind of mouth cancer screening that they were offering. Of course it wasn’t covered by the insurance, which they warned her about, but there was no need for that. After they did this (on the same visit) they pointed out a crown the dentist had put on 6 years previously was improperly seated. My wife asked if they were going to fix it since they admitted that they messed up. She was informed that the “warranty” on the work expired.
    Since she had been in there every 6 months since they replaced it, I figured they had ample opportunity to discover the problem.
    So I told her to complain to the insurance company. No resolution there.
    So I took the best step I think. When they called to remind me of my appointment I ignored them.
    I have 4 kids. they all will need braces probably.
    I took 6 mouths of cavity prone teeth out of their pocket and will be moving them to another Dentist

  145. Blackneto says:

    Regarding Payment due when service is rendered. My excuse is always, “My wife has the MSA card and I don’t have my CC with me. Bill me.”
    The first part is true. The second part may be also, as I never carry it or my debit card regularly.
    If they tried to hold me I would just have them call the cops. Otherwise I’m walking out.
    The doctor collects my address and insurance info when I walk in. There’s nothing keeping them from sending me a bill.
    My plumber bills me, my HVAC guy bills me, my lawn guy bills me. I bill my customers.

    A side note, Knowing about the hassles of dealing with insurance companies because most of my customers are doctors, I tried to make a deal with my chiropractor.
    He’s having cashflow problems. I told him that If he would give me some kind of cash discount that I would pay him cash or check every visit and he wouldn’t have to submit to the insurance company or pay the merchant fees for processing my MSA card.
    He looked at me like I’d grown horns.
    I think doctors get sucked into the system and don’t know how to get out of it.

  146. god_forbids says:

    Funny how a troll like kublacustomer can post and yet Consumerist has not approved my account, despite posting for over 6 months already none of my posts have appeared. WHY GOD WHY?@!?!?

  147. gruhtra says:

    Ha! What a medical system we have in this country.

    I was was going through a check up, the receptionist called in and apparently told the nurse practitioner that I did not have the right insurance. This is after they had it on file and agreed it was ok and let me in. The nurse stops dead in her tracks and says she cannot continue. In the middle of the exam! At least have common courtesy to finish a basic exam. After all that it turns out the insurance was correct and the staff messed up.

    Its all about the insurance and your ability to pay… Treating people comes second.

  148. ShariC says:

    The fact that some commenters see health care as something people are entitled to only if they can afford it as if it were a commodity like a car, computer, or other luxury is indicative of why America is in the state it’s in. Things that are necessary to survive (food, shelter, water, medicine) are not the same as things that aren’t necessary to survive. In any first world, civilized country, necessities are provided, but, in America, the richest country in the world populated by Christians who appear to pay lip service only to the principles taught by Jesus, the attitude is ‘if you can’t pay, you can just suffer and die.’

    In high tax countries with a lot of social services, people are happy to pay high taxes because they don’t have to live in fear that they will be destitute when they retire. They know they are taken care of. You can be a greedy bastard who jealously guards every penny and worries that any misfortune or downturn in the market will spell the end of your comfortable life or you can be your brother’s keeper and know that you will be kept as well.

    Situations like this are despicable and I hope the doctor involved loses his license and has to hand over the keys to his house to the woman he did this to.

  149. Schneb says:

    @CaptainConsumer:

    I can’t believe this information about him is being ignored. It was enough that he in any way intimidated or held prisoner this patient, but with these comments as indications of his general conduct, end of story.

    The man/episode is emblematic of what’s wrong with our health care system: patients are viewed as chits to be used for making a profit. Patient health is not a primary focus–except as it relates to someone’s profit margin.

    Of course, there are good doctors and nurses and so on who really do care about their patients, but they shouldn’t have to struggle against this sort of parasitic profiteering.

  150. vgerik1234 says:

    @SuffolkHouse: When you go to a restaurant and do not have enough money on you, what do they do to you? Make you wash dishes. THAT is the same thing as what the doctor did, but instead of washing dishes, he made her wait.

    The article does not state that she even had enough money for the $98 original fee. If she never did in the first place, that automatically makes her (hell I don’t know the legal term for it) avoiding payment? So basically theft.

    People STILL had to pay for a doctor.. since always. The pilgrims had to pay for a doctors visit, native americans, EVERYONE has to pay for a doctors visit. Just because you are sick, does not mean you can avoid paying a bill by suing a doctor, even if he held you against your will. Scratch that, he has full rights because you were too stupid enough to try and acquire something KNOWING you could not pay. Then when it comes time to face the facts, you sue the doctor… They are disregarding EVERY little info about she could not pay in the first place.

    It doesn’t matter if she was held up until she paid, SHE TRIED TO AVOID PAYMENT AND IS SUING NOW.

  151. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @CaptainConsumer: How does this fool stay in business?!?!

    He overcharges, he’s an asshole, AND they’re all incompetent?

    I can only assume that his practice survives on new patients who don’t do any research before going to him.

    I hope all of this comes out in the trial.

  152. Marko_Vulvic says:

    Hate to bother “y’all” with some of my fancy Canadian “book words” but don’t “y’all” have the Hypocratic oath down there anymore?

    Or is that something the “terrorists” want to use to hate “Ameurrica”

    Derka Der everyone! DERKA DER.

  153. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @vgerik1234: No, the equivalent to “washing dishes” would have been something like filing or answering the phone or some other routine low-skill chore not involving the hurt arm too much. Cthulhu knows I would have jumped at the chance to work off a doctor bill that way when I was poor and working secretarial temp jobs.

  154. girly says:

    @Marko_Vulvic: I thought Canadians said ‘eh’, not ‘y’all’.

  155. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    @Concerned_Citizen: Sending her to collections probably won’t have the effect you think it will.

  156. BlazerUnit says:

    @kublaconsumer: You’re an idiot.

    See, Consumerist group-think isn’t always bad.

  157. janaram says:

    To Jaggurnaut and all other people that is concerned with this maybe you should do a little research and you would see that “She satisfied her bill in FULL”, she just did not have the money in her bank account and had live checks in her vehicle and they would not let her leave to cash them! Once she threatened to call the police they finally let her leave to cash her checks and she returned 90 minutes later to pay the bill in full and then filed a police report.

  158. bari says:

    I have read many of the comments and I do not know whether to laugh or cry. How can you people make a judgment without really knowing the facts. I know them and if any of you would take the time, you could have known them. Ms. Bales was NOT, I repeat,NOT locked in a room. First of all, there are absolutely no locks on any of the doors. Also, she went out of the office at least 3 times for a cigarette. Before she went to the doctor, she knew that she did not have the money to pay and she thought she could get free medical care and then sue the doctor for more money. There is a case pending in Fulton at this time, and the truth will come out. Then all of you who were so fast to judge and bad mouth Dr. Laurusonis, who by the way is really a nice guy, can choke on all your words.