New fees just for walking into doctor's office

(WCPO) - As if medical costs weren't rising enough, many people are finding their longtime doctors adding new fees this year. If it happens, should you pay, fight, or change doctors?

$50 just to walk in the door

Michael Anderson has seen the same doctor for more than 10 years.

But his doctor now wants to charge him $50 a year just to be a patient and walk in the door.

"The letter states that with this $50 come some additional benefits, some including some same day appointments, email access, web portal, non-emergency questions," Anderson said.

New Fees at Many Offices
    
More and more practices have the same rule.

Among the fees some offices now charge:

        -Annual office fees

        -Paperwork fees for completing school or sports forms

        -Fax fees for faxing info to a pharmacy or other doctor

        -Fees for chatting with a nurse on the phone.

Anderson said  he was given no option. "I called and they sayid, you're either in or you're out," he said. "Either pay  $50 at my next appointment or I might have to find another doctor."

Anderson told us he wasn't sure what he's going to do because he likes his doctor, but he's concerned that if he pays up now, what's to stop practices from upping the charge?

"What's to stop them from raising this in subsequent years," he wondered.  "$50 could next year be $75 or $100, and if I do find another doctor, what's to say that other health networks are not going to be charging the same thing."

What You Can Do

If you receive a letter like this, you may want to try to negotiate. If the office staff won't help, speak with your doctor directly next time you have an appointment.

A spokesperson from UC Health told us some doctors are willing to waive the fee if you really can't afford it.

That way you don't waste your money.

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