Report: Growing Number Of Doctors Adding A La Carte Fees

Lest you think nickle-and-dime fees for services that were once free is the sole purview of the airline industry, a new report in USA Today claims that the more and more physicians in the U.S. are going the route of charging money for services they say aren’t covered by health insurance.

Among the fees being charged on a more common basis are:
* No-show fees for missed appointments
* Fees for filling out health-related forms for school, work or sports teams
* Annual administrative fees

Says the president of the Medical Group Management Association:

It’s not unlike the airlines… They’ve gone from all-inclusive to a la carte. That’s what you’re seeing with physicians.

While most docs are not yet charging fees, the number is on the rise. This is confirmed by an executive at not-at-all-evil insurance company WellPoint, who says the company has received an increased number of inquiries from health care providers trying to find out what kind of fees they can charge that would not violate their provider agreement.

USA Today talked to one physician in Washington who sent out letters to his 7,000 patients in March requesting a voluntary $35 annual administrative fee. The doctor claims to have only received a pair of angry replies and that dozens of patients have replied in the affirmative.

Said another doctor who charges a $120/family non-covered benefits fee, “A lot of doctors are trying all kinds of experimental things just to survive.”

What do you think about these fees? Is it only right for a physician to try to make a living? Or is this a case of cashing in on loopholes in the system?

Would you pay these fees or would you move on to another doctor?

Doctors tack on fees for patients [USA Today]