Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Six Months Wait for Simple Medical Appointment--$652 Bill

The American Medical System—Routine Skin Appointment after Six Months Wait

      ....and a $652 bill for routine services

At a regular yearly physical examination last summer at the Burlington Community Health Center my doctor and I agreed it was time for a routine dermatology appointment. Being a very white person, am vulnerable to pre-cancerous lesions which routinely can be “frozen” off in a non-painful way by a routine dermatologist session.

Contacted University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMMC) and surprise, the first open date for the routine appointment was in six months! Previous U.S. appointment to a low-cost private physician (out-of-network) was in San Francisco, less than a week wait for an appointment.

Then the appointment came this year and must admit it was thorough and professional. Then got the bill! The base bill was $652 for the one-hour appointment. Then after all kinds of discounts and co-pays and deductibles—from both Medicare and my Vermont state employee supplemental coverage the first medical bill of the year came in at $217.49.

This caused me to recall my last similar routine appointment—it was in Montreal and, again, no wait to see a private physician, a McGill Medical School graduate. That appointment cost $70 Canadian at the time, and my Vermont insurance covered the out-of-network cost so my actual out of pocket cost was less than $15.

Then last month or so later came all the exciting paper work—from Medicare, from the Vermont state employee health plan, and, of course, the first bills from UVMMC. Oh yes, not one bill from UVMMC but two separate bills—one for the physician services and one from hospital itself.

Next time makes sense to me to get service in Montreal during a visit there. At least there one gets one simple one-page bill, make a simple one time payment.