Paying Your Doctor Bill Up-Front: More Hassle Than Using Insurance

If I were to look at the different methods of paying a bill at the doctor’s and rate them according to how quick and easy they were, I’d probably rate them like this (one is easiest):

1) Pay up-front

2) Mail a check after getting the bill

3) Have the clinic bill my insurance company, get insurance statement, get bill from clinic, then pay the bill.

Here’s how it apparently works

1) Have the clinic bill my insurance company, then pay the bill.

2) Mail a check after getting the bill (one and two may be tied).

3) Pay up-front.

That’s right, paying up-front requires the most hassle, work, and run-around.  Hubby went to the doctor the other day.  Since he doesn’t have insurance, we told the office we’d be paying with a check before we left the office.  So we’re thinking that Husband will see the doctor, they’ll give us a total, and we’ll write them a check.  Silly us.  For starters, they didn’t even know how much to charge us.  The clinic manager thought we got a discount but first she had to call someone else to find out.  Turns out we don’t get a discount.  Instead, there’s a flat fee for paying up-front (which turned out to be half the amount I was expecting pay – yay!).  Great.  So we pay our bill.

The next day, the clinic manager calls us back.  She tells Husband that there was a form they needed him to fill out and sign because he paid his bill in-person, right after our visit.  Wait, what?  We’ve already paid our bill, you have our money, and we need to fill out a form to do that?  Husband tells the clinic manager his e-mail address and says he’ll fax it back tomorrow.  The clinic e-mails Husband, but they don’t actually e-mail him the form.  Instead, he gets an e-mail telling him he has to sign up for an account on the clinic’s website so he can download the form.  Remember, all we did was pay our bill in-person before we left the clinic.

Let’s review:

1) We paid our bill, in full, at the clinic as soon as Husband’s appointment was over.

2) The clinic had to make a phone call to determine how much money we owed them.  They didn’t know, they couldn’t punch it in the computer to figure it out.

3) The next day, the clinic calls us and tells us they were supposed to have us sign a form so we could pay up-front.

4) In order to get the form, Husband gets sent to the clinic’s website where he has to create an account to download the required form, before he can print it, fill it out, and fax it.

I think it’s a lot easier to let the clinic bill you.  They send you a bill, you send them a check.  Except if you don’t have insurance you have to pay at the time of your visit (or maybe that was the other clinic).  At any rate, if you don’t have insurance to bill (which can be a hassle in and of itself), be prepared for lots of extra paperwork and run-around – all because you paid your bill right away!

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