Thursday, December 3, 2009

Medical services and highway robbery

I am supposed to have bloodtests fairly regularly because of the medications I am on for my heart. Kidneys and liver need to be checked.

I visited the doc a couple of weeks ago and he asked "When was your last blood test?"

"Hmmmmm. I had one done about, er, oh, coupla years ago?"

The doctor said "Who do you want to go to for your blood test?"

I said "Oh, X, I always go to X. They'll do."

It was a Wednesday so I decided to get the blood test before the end of the week. This pathologist's collection rooms are now open on Saturday, but it was one of the Saturdays I was faffing around organising my glasses (which I still haven'tgot!).

Off I traipsed to X at lunchtime the next day. The phlebotomist (look that up in your Funk & Wagnalls), quickly explained to me:

"You can make a co-payment of $40 now, or we can send you an account."

I thought aloud for a while, it was off pay week, the cash account was drained and I didn't want to put more on my credit card. I asked about paying via B-pay and she was clueless, she gave me a slip of paper about paying on the phone or something, but it wasn't B-pay. I opted for the sent account. I figured it would be an account for the co-payment. (The account had a B-pay option.)

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzt. Wrong again.

The blood taking was painless, very good! The account arrived about a week later... $136. WTF? I hit the roof. I wasn't told that the account would be more than three times the co-payment. I phoned them a day or two later and explained that the co-payment/account option as far as the cost, was not explained to me. The pathology order was checked Y for bulk-bill. I explained that I was told that the co-payment could be made on the spot, or I could receive an account. Had I known the amount of the account I would have found the co-payment. The woman was polite, she said it was basically my word against theirs, but I should tear up my account for $136 (which included consideration for a $9 discount), and they would send me another one.

I know that pathologists up here no longer bulk bill and accept that as payment in full. Fair enough.

The second account arrived yesterday. Now it's only $96 with a slightly larger discount.

Can someone explain to me how they have two schedules of fees? If they can afford to provide this service for $96 a pop why is that not the fee they charge?

There has, apparently, been quite a bit on the media about this. People are not happy.

Speaking with someone in a doctors' surgery on a campus I was told that the pathology provider they'd used for 20 years had been dropped. They wouldn't bulk bill the students and wanted to send them a bill. A lot of the students live on campus and many don't have transport, so they'd have to fork out $136 (or $96 depending on whether they complained or not), and then get a pittance refunded by Medicare via mail. I don't know too many people on wages who have a loafing $136 (or even $96) for a medical bill, let alone a student.

2 comments:

android said...
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kae said...

Spambot slammed.