Thursday, December 16, 2010

Burned By Urgent Care?

I kinda feel like I was.

I went into St. Joseph's Hospital's Urgent Care Clinic a couple Saturdays ago. I had a head cold or flu I just couldn't seem to shake and felt I had to do something about it. Was taken care of quickly and efficiently and really liked the place. Heck, I told myself I should probably go there instead of the physician I normally see.

As I left I asked how much I owed them since I pay nearly all my medical expenses out of pocket. The gal says she couldn't tell me as billing is done later on but, if I'd make a partial down payment, they'd give me something like 30% off the bill total.

I figured the clinic itself probably wouldn't charge more than $50.00 so wrote them a check for that amount. That was just for the clinic. The physician or P.A. charges separately. I went home thinking I'd probably get a refund of some amount for the check I'd just wrote.

Just got the bill today. They charged me $168.00 for that visit. I don't think it lasted an hour. In fairness, they also deducted the 30% which was $58.00 from the total along with the $50.00 down payment I made. Looks like I still owe them $59.20. So, $109.00 for an office visit that would cost me $65.00 at my normal doctor's office.

YIKES! A rather unpleasant surprise. I wouldn't think that would be that out of line if that was all I owed them but I still have to pay the Physician's Assistant. I'm thinking now that's likely to cost more than I expected, too. I wouldn't be surprised if I pay another $100.00 for her. $200.00+ for a visit to the doc? We shall see.

I guess I won't be going there again unless I absolutely have to. Shame, as I really like the place and was really disappointed to hear they're going to close it down.

Addendum: Oh, again in fairness, they also have a note on the bill saying if I pay the total due within 30 days of the billing date, I can deduct 20% off the current total. I appreciate that.


At 10:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is why affordable health care is an issue, Fred. At least you won't go bankrupt; you're in pretty good shape and your overall bill lets you keep your house for now.

Now, the Urgent Center bill you had doesn't suprise me at all; I've known all along for some time that despite their Mission Statement, St. Joe's intended to raise rates nearly comparable to a hospital Emergency Room visit-- to be more profitable and build that big new tower of theirs. This was reported in the North Coast Journal by reporter Ryan Burns a few months back. This is unfortuante since they're the only licensed Urgent Care game in town and can charge us as much as they wish. Up until now.

Fred, this is why Open Door Health Clinic is coming to town; so everyone-- you and I-- can have affordable health care. How?

Open Door intends to put in a licensed Urgent Care Center in Eureka competing with St. Joe's. I can assure you the billing cost to you will be much lower than St. Joe's giving Eureka citizens more affordable access to quality health care than previously offered.

Thank you, Open Door Clinic!

At 11:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our experience with St. Joe's Urgent Care was insurance paid a pretty hefty bill for being looked at and a prescription written that they could not fill. Lot more than you were charged.

A few years ago I had only disaster medical insurance with as $5,000 deductible and asked St. Joe's how much a test that was being ordered would cost as I would pay cash - the quote was $800 plus 20% for the Xray person to read it. Delayed the test and got better insurance and it was billed out at $250 to the insurance company. Go figure - you never know if you are going to pay much more or a lot less with insurance.

At 2:09 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

10:51 wrote, I can assure you the billing cost to you will be much lower than St. Joe's giving Eureka citizens more affordable access to quality health care than previously offered..

You may have noticed I addressed the new proposed Open Door Health Clinic a few days back. I'm certainly glad to see new or expanded primary care facilities up here but, as I wrote a few days ago, I'm skeptical it will work as planned.

They're planning quite a grandiose facility. Probably at a level much more expensive than they should. Given that the vast majority of the Open Door Clinic's patients are on MediCal, or without insurance, color me skeptical if I say they won't be able to stay open. They won't make enough money to.

I hope I'm wrong but they've already stopped accepting new patients at the Eureka Open Door. Putting the same people in a bigger, more expensive, building won't do anything to solve that.

They say they'll hire more staff, but if those staff are treating MediCal or other low income patients, they'll likely go bust. Most hospitals in this state that deal with over 60% of their patients being on MediCal or MediCare are having problems staying open.

At 6:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fred, they have special provisions and grants unique to 'rural health care' operations that allow them to be profitable... in a non-profit sort of way.

You're right, most private Doctors don't make much on MediCal patients otherwise-- and thus refuse to see them. Pitiful. Some doctors are furious over these special rural health care allowances they don't receive. They would like to if they could but that would be a bit greedy. Why?

The doctors in our specific area make some of the very highest salaries in the US due to very special considerations and setting their own rates, as well as keeping an outside area HMO-rate-setting presences at bay. They don't typically see those on MediCal because, quite frankly, it's not profitable as a full pay or insured patient. I bet you-- or your readers-- don't know this. This is a dirty little secret known by only a few... and the doctors.

And yes, I know this based on very good authority.

Open Door will see many more patients and know what they're doing fiscally. We need the facility and affordable health care, now, for everyone.

At 2:24 PM, Anonymous meme said...

Excuse me, "the very highest salaries in the US"???!!! That is not even close to being factual. And it is why a number are leaving, actually--they can make a HUGE amount more elsewhere. AND most see people on MediCal, because that is what the majority here have. Yes, it is not as profitable as a privately-insured patient, but them's the breaks of living here. And yes, I know this based on very good authority.


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