Why you might pay twice for one visit to the doctor (Seattle Times)

“Now, you should listen to this, ’cause this concerns you.”…….

November 3, 2012 – More patients are being confronted with hospital “facility fees” for routine doctors’ office visits. Hospitals say the fees are needed to cover overhead as they consolidate and buy clinics and practices, but the trend has spurred calls for more scrutiny. Joanne Silberner stood at the podium, about to referee a CityClub panel on health-care costs. As a former health-policy correspondent for National Public Radio, Silberner knows a lot. But, she told the panelists and the audience, she was baffled when she got two bills after a recent visit to a dermatologist. One bill, for $109, was for the doctor, who saw her in his office at the Roosevelt Clinic. Then, to her dismay, she got another bill — $228 — for using the space. The care she got seemed identical to an earlier visit with a dermatologist at another clinic — except for the two-bill whammy. Such add-on facility charges are increasingly common for office visits — even routine ones — as hospitals around the country consolidate and buy independent practices. Clinics and practices operated by hospitals can charge the fees, as Silberner discovered at Roosevelt Clinic, licensed by UW Medicine, a hospital system. Hospitals that charge facility fees in some clinics include the UW, Swedish Medical Center, Seattle Children’s and others. They say the fees are needed to defray overhead such as equipment, staff, medical-records systems, diagnostic imaging and care not covered by insurance or underpaid by Medicare or Medicaid. The fees are justified, they argue, because integrating clinics with hospitals improves care.

Link to Full Article: http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2019600338_facilityfees04m.html?prmid=head_main

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