The next time you visit your primary care physician for a physical, you may want to consider inquiring as to whether or not you will be billed extra for asking too many questions during your checkup. This is what happened recently to Susan Krantz of Minnetonka, Minnesota, who was reportedly charged an additional $50 on her medical bill for simply inquiring about a sore hip.
It is called a "split charge," and it is increasingly creeping up in the medical billing process for patients who converse with their doctors about specific ailments outside the general physical regimen. Time spent with doctors discussing "acute care" matters are apparently billed differently than time spent for a "wellness" visit -- in essence, doctors are now sometimes charging for two office visits when patients discuss other matters.
"Even as a registered nurse, I can't figure out what this is," said Krantz to WCCO News in Minnesota about the charge, recalling when she first noticed it on the bill. "You can be charged an extra office visit if you ask too many questions. I don't understand that, because isn't that what [the] visit is for?"
According to Krantz, her doctor asked her whether or not she had any additional questions following the physical, but made no disclosure about the fact that those questions would end up being billed as a separate line item. And Park Nicollet, the health services corporation where Krantz had her visit, tried to legitimize the deceptive practice by claiming it is a requirement for insurance purposes.
But this explanation does little for Krantz, who is now expected to either pay or make a co-pay for the "additional visit" that was really just a part of her single visit. And since she was never told that there would even be an additional charge, she feels as though the entire situation is largely unjustified and illegitimate.
"As always, the doctor's visit started out with her (the doctor) asking what questions do you have? And I had a little list. This one and this one and this one. And she said, 'Okay,'" explained Krantz about the frustrating situation. "I think you need to put a sign up in the exam room saying, 'You may be billed extra if you ask too many questions.,'" she added.
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