A break for cash-paying patients, but she had her own "unbelievable" OB bill

LETTER — Posted March 28, 2005

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Regarding "Why full price for cash payers but then a break for managed care?" (Letters, March 7): I completely agree with letter writer Michael R. Cavenee, MD, of Plano, Texas, that cash patients should not pay full price.

When I began practice with my husband in 2000, I suggested he join my intended policy of giving cash patients "a break." After understanding my logic of no papers to file for the 65% to 85% return on your total bill, no denials or hassles, and sincere appreciation from your patients, he agreed to join me in the discount policy for cash patients.

The policy is as follows: If the patient is paying or charging to their credit card the total due on the day of service, a 30% discount is applied. If the patient can't pay the total due but agrees to set up a monthly payment plan, a 20% discount is given. More than 85% of our cash patients pay their bill in full at each visit. They are most appreciative of our policy.

After having this policy in place for over two years, we found ourselves on the other side of the fence -- no OB insurance, a high-risk pregnancy necessitating a perinatologist, numerous screening tests and ultimately a cesarean delivery at 31 weeks in a tertiary-level hospital. The price tag was unbelievable. It made us very happy to know we were already sensitive to the needs of patients in our situation.

I realize that some physicians are "employed" and might not have the option of making their own policy. For those who are "owner operators" and do have this option, please consider a policy for your cash patients.

Michelle J. Banning, MD, Danville, Ark.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2005/03/28/edlt0328.htm.

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