Phoning It In?


Dr. Joe and Prozac have been helping Ann manage her depression for years.  Ann makes regular “medication management” visits to see Dr. Joe to make sure the dosage is still working well for her, but recently she was traveling and realized she was running low on her pills.  So she left him a voice mail asking him to please phone in a refill for her prescription to her pharmacy while she was away, she’d see him again when she got back.  Dr. Joe called back and left Ann a message saying no problem.  All good, right?  That is until…

Later that month Ann received a bill in the mail for an $80 “phone consultation” with Dr. Joe!  She couldn’t believe it.  Some of our friends were also appalled at the phone charge, while others pointed out that since she missed her regular appointment that month, Dr. Joe actually lost money on what Ann (and the insurance company) would have normally paid for a regular office visit.

So… Should Ann call Dr. Joe to discuss the charge, or should she just let it slide?  It is reasonable for the Dr. to charge her for phoning in a prescription?  Tell us what you think!

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6 Responses to “Phoning It In?”

  1. cat says:

    what! no way. i would complain. at best unethical, at worst illegal.

  2. jaye says:

    Sorry for Joe, $80 is out of line for this request. I have 3 family members, one is my son, with chronic life threatening conditions, and I cannot believe what goes on between the doctors and the insurance companies with the end user, the insured patient, taking the brunt of it. Doctors do not want to deal with insurance, so they place the onus back on the patient. We are not responsible for such nonsense, and I would take issue with this charge with both Dr Joe and my insurance company.
    For my son’s insulin pump, insurance wanted me to pay over $4000 copay under the DME, durable medical equipment, annual cap. But I knew that the pump was fillable by my policy contract under a 3rd party Rx through the prescription portion. It took me 2 months, many calls including to legal department of insurer, and ultimately filled the pump and 3 mos supplies for a $50 copay. The coverage allowed filling either way; the insurers tried to force me into paying thousands more than my coverage required.

    I have had pediatricians, who after being advised by me multiple times of insurance changes, bill me because their office filed under old insurance and then did not catch it and refile timely. They attempted to hold me to the form that I signed stating I took responsibility for what insurance does not pay, but that does not include covering their administrative errors.

    Take a stand with Dr Joe. Come to a reasonable agreement on this incident, which for me would be that this charge is rescinded and going forward you agree to what a “phone consultation” cost is and how it is billed.

  3. Simone says:

    Yes she should discuss the charge, complain and say she doesn’t plan to pay it. I can’t say that it was illegal. However, the bottom line is that Dr Joe had an obligation to let her know that there would be a charge for this BEFORE hand.

    The fact that Joe will lose money because Ann’s on vacay is ridiculous. Does Ann charge him a “stress fee” for the inconvenience when he goes away on vacation, or has to cancel due to an emergency? I have my hair cut every six weeks by the same stylist, but sometimes I have it cut when I’m away. I’d be shopping for another stylist if they charged me because I didn’t come in for 12 weeks!

  4. Liz says:

    First tell Joe what you think of him, and then switch doctors immediately. Would not entrust my health to such a person.

  5. louie says:

    And this is why Drs. are not good business people. Don’t blame the Doc so fast, as he might be using professional phone time software that auto creates billing for phone conversations, just like attorney’s do. This does not abdicate him from courtesy accomodations like a script refill. If this wasn’t a house keeping error on his billing dept. part, then this guy has to go. Any doc can prescribe and monitor prozac usage. A real sign of the times. You need to consider whether he’s more interested in you as a patient or simply a fee for knowing him.

  6. Amy says:

    I think it’s crazy. 80 bucks for a phone call? And what is this software that creates billing for phone conversations? Something like this?Is it based on what a doctor usually charges for a visit? Sounds crazy, especially because I can understand paying for a visit where you actually are face to face with the doctor, but a prescription??! She should demand what exactly she is supposed to pay for before shelling out the dough, really. AND get another doctor.

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