DOCTOR'S BILLS (20 – 30 % of our $3 Trillion Bill)
Part 1. What You Can Start Doing Now: you need to be that “difficult” paitent who ask questions (why your doctor is ordering a particular test). You need to challenge large numbers on your bill even if your insurance is paying it. Another thing you really need to do to help ward off unwanted healthcare cost is by asking questions about the care and the price that is tagged to it before you get billed.
A. Choosing Your Doctor: here are some basic questions you should ask about the business structure of the practice that will impact your bills.
1.) Is the practice owned by a hospital or licensed as a surgery center? - If you answer yes you (or insurer) will most likely be paying the outrageous facility fees. You can ask if such a fee will be added and how much it will be; some doctor's offices may not be able to answer this question because their bills come from the hospitals or an outsider biller.
2.) Will you refer me only to other physicians in my insurance network, or explain why in advance if you can't? - Your doctor should spend some time looking at your insurance network's list and pick someone he or she trusts within it, and not by picking a specialists that they have a long-standing relationship or that the hospital wants them to pick.
3.) If I need bllod wor or radiology testing, can you send me to an in-network lab? - Hospital labs can be 100 times higher than at a commerical lab. With a few extra clicks of a mouse or a fac from the doctor's office can direct testing to cheaper outside providers. Any doctor should be able to do it, but will yours?
4.) Will there be charges for phone advice or filling out forms? Is there an annual practice fee? - It's good for you to know about extra charges, and how your doctor views his or hers commitment to medicne and his or hers patients.
5.) If I'm hospitalized, will you be seeing me in the hospital? What is your coverage on weekends? - In the USA, despite physicians' high salaries, many practices have outsourced these services. You don't want a doctor whose off-hour backup advice is to go to your local urgent care center or a hospital emergency room with which he has no contact.
Next week I well talk about the facts about in your doctor's office and what should be done, and the value of waiting before seeking treatment.