What to Ask your Doctor

Traditionally, a person would not walk into a doctor’s office and ask how much this service or that service costs. Health care is unique, in that there are no price tags on services, no prices posted when you walk through the door. How much is that immunization shot? How much will that blood test cost me? How much is that MRI?

As transperancy becomes more of an issue in health care, it is important for consumers of health care services to ask about price. Afterall, a physician states that it is your responsibility to know what your insurance plan does and does not cover. Do you not have the right to know how much a procedure will cost prior to agreeing to accept that procedure?

I’m not suggesting that if you are in the hostpial, you would ask what every procedure or pill costs before you accept it. But, perhaps that is the wave of the future.

I went to the gynocologist recently and was handed a cup by the receptionist, who pointed me to the restroom. “Why do you need a urine sample?” I asked. The receptionist said it was “standard procedure;” every patient is asked to provide a sample. I had just had a urine test at another doctor recently; why did I need another, and how much would it cost? When I asked if the sample was absolutely necessary, and if I did choose to participate, how much would it cost, the receptionist called in the office manager to speak with me.

A good policy is to ask when you set up the appointment what will happen at the visit. Will a urine sample be required? Are you or your child due for any immunizations; if so, which? What blood work might be taken? You may need to speak with a nurse on staff, as the person setting the appointment may not have this information. You may also need to return to the doctor, if he or she recommends a procedure or test, and you do not know if it is covered  by your insurance company. I have called insurance companies while in a doctor’s office to see what is and is not covered.

It may be helpful to follow up with your insurance company prior to the visit. You might say, “My physician is telling me that an annual blood test is standard procedure. Is that covered under my plan?” Or, “My physician is recommending a specific immunization for my child, what would my cost be for that?”

Check every time, as plans and coverages change frequently. Some insurance companies, for example, are only covering pap swears every two years now. Your physician may recommend it annually; he or she may just go ahead and do the procedure. If it is not covered and your physician recommends it annually, you might wish to have a conversation with your doctor: “I called and my insurance will not pay for that procedure. How much do you charge for that?”

Asking initiative questions up front, checking with your insurance company in advance, and questioning your health care provider about costs may turn some heads, but it will make you a more informed consumer in the long run. It may even become standard one day soon!


Posted on by Diane in Health, index

One Response to What to Ask your Doctor

  1. Johna602

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