At this practice, HSAs a "disaster"

LETTER — Posted March 27, 2006

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Regarding "Collecting patients' share up-front getting easier" (Article, Feb. 27): I enjoyed your article on health savings accounts, but let me tell you why they are a disaster for my solo primary care practice.

The patient comes in with their HSA high-deductible type insurance and is given appropriate treatment, goes to the check-out window with their claim ticket, pays their contracted co-pay and leaves.

Sometime later, instead of receiving our usual discounted payment amount in the mail, we receive no check and are notified that the patient has not yet met their deductible and we must instead collect from the patient.

Unfortunately, the patient is long gone and may have even forgotten they ever saw the doctor. Needless to say, the likelihood of this bill being paid promptly is approximately zero.

My accounts receivable are going up rapidly in parallel with the increasing HSAs in our area. Check deductible status at the time of service? Well, that capability seems to be a long way in the future and when it does get here, I wonder how much this extra checking will hold up the patients in the check-out line or tie up my multitasking receptionist when she has other tasks that need her attention.

Just another scam putting the squeeze on the lowly primary care doc. Not that anyone cares.

Everest A. Whited, MD, PhD, Pflugerville, Texas

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2006/03/27/edlt0327.htm.

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