Patient satisfaction painpoints you didn’t know about

How unforeseen healthcare costs can cause a major headache

Out-of-pocket costs can make a routine trip to the doctor’s office very stressful, especially if you aren’t privy to procedure costs prior to your visit.

Recently I’ve had quite a few doctor appointments. They ranged from an annual check-up with blood work, to yearly mammograms, a visit to an Ortho doc that ended with a cortisone shot, an MRI and follow-up visits.

This year we changed insurance companies but chose a very similar plan to the previous year. But I never expected the barrage of co-pay bills for things I’ve never before paid co-pays for.

The insurance company initially would not pay the copay for the yearly blood work done from my physical. A call to the insurance company stated that the paperwork wasn’t labeled routine but was labeled diagnostic. I’d have to call the doctor’s office to get it changed and have them resubmit the claim. After speaking with them, they said that the script was submitted for routine work, but the lab must have put it in wrong to the insurance company. Or so they said.

Then I received another bill for a specialist copay from another lab for blood work that got sent out to a second lab that the first lab couldn’t process for my routine blood work. Turns out it was for the Vitamin D level check. So now I have two co-pays for blood work done for a routine physical.

At the visit to the Ortho doc, I paid my specialist co-pay at the time of service but then got a notice from the insurance company that I might owe a copay. Totally baffled I called the insurance company and was notified the cortisone shot required a co-pay.

The list of co-pays, insurance notices and unclear billing goes on and on

I suspect as high-deductible health plans and various changes to co-pays are on the rise it will continue to be the patient’s responsibility to figure out the mire of notices and bills. However, it sure would be nice to know upfront what I might be responsible for other than the doctor’s copay. Which, by the way, every doctor’s office makes it very clear from the time you make the appointment to the follow-up reminder notice. Furthermore, when you get there that the visit co-pay is due at the time you arrive.

But they don’t make it clear what else you might have to pay for should they order a test, a shot, an x-ray, a radiologist reading or even the cost of a prescription. How about checking whether or not my insurance even covers certain meds or at what tier level I could expect to pay for it? I can’t even imagine a bill from a hospital considering all the people who come into your room to check on you, take your blood, read a report, etc. etc.

A new post from Strategic Health Care Marketing cites a recent patient satisfaction survey from West Corporation. Note that one of the top three patient pain points found 49% of patients want advance knowledge of out-of-pocket costs.

Imagine my perception about the practices I visited (many of whom are run by hospitals)  if they could have informed me about all the copays I could expect from the above visits. Imagine how much less frustrated I would have been if I didn’t have to chase down answers from customer services reps who hide behind complicated phone trees.

I’d be a much happier patient.