Does Your Doctor's Office Combat Insurance Fraud With Webcams?

Melissa tells Consumerist that she had an irritating recent visit to her optometrist’s office. The experience led her to find a new provider (hooray, free market!) but she wonders whether the offending office’s tactics are becoming more common in other places. She wants to know: have any of your health care providers started photographing patients, claiming that the snapshots are to prevent insurance fraud?

Recently I went to a local optometrist for my annual checkup, and after I turned in my paperwork as a returning patient a staff member at the front desk pointed to a small webcam tucked against the wall on one end of the desk. There was a little green light lit up on it, so I’m guessing she already had it up and running by the time she pointed it out to me. She told me they had to get a picture of me, “In case of insurance fraud,” told me to let her know when I was ready to have it taken, and indicated she had taken the picture before I even had a chance to respond. I wasn’t shown the picture, just told that it was taken before before being ushered down the hall for my exam.

Though I’ve been going there regularly for about ten years now this has never happened before. It was embarrassing (the minute she mentioned “insurance fraud” everyone else in the waiting room started staring at me) and reminded me of the greeters/receipt-checkers found in big box stores, which I already make a regular habit of avoiding. I really like their doctors, but despite their heavy advertising of the Consumer’s Choice awards they’ve received, their staff tends to be curt, impatient and aggressive with sales of lenses and frames. This year they “accidentally” canceled my appointment after i changed my mind about getting fitted for contact lenses, requiring me to reschedule time off from work for my exam, and they charged me a fee to get the necessary measurements to order my glasses online instead of having it done for outrageous prices with them. I’m planning to find a new office to go to, but I just wanted to know if you’ve heard about this occurring in medical offices anywhere else.