I went to the doctor this morning to take advantage of the “free” preventive services check-up.
Apparently, neither my doctor nor the lab got the memo that preventive service check-ups were now “free” under Obamacare.
Last November I wrote, “Obamacare Promises “Free” Colonoscopies…Yeah, Right!” In that post I showed how my wife’s “Free” Colonoscopy actually cost her $3613.
I also shared some tips that you can use to make certain that your “free” preventive colonoscopy does not cost you quite as much.
During my “free” check-up this morning my doctor asked me if I planned on getting a colonoscopy any time soon. I told him that I am waiting until after the first of the year when the Essential Benefit Plans are in effect and I do not get any huge surprises.
The financial surprises I got this morning were enough for me.
The first thing that happened when I checked in at my doctor’s office was a check of my insurance. I was prepared for that. However, I was not prepared for them to ask me to pay a co-pay for a “free” preventive service exam. They told me that if the insurance company paid them in full they would refund the co-pay to me.
Since I have been burned by this technique before by a physical therapist practice, I did what I rarely do. I am normally a fairly passive guy in a public area but since there were no other patients in the waiting room at the time, I reminded the office workers that they were not supposed to charge me a co-pay for an annual preventive services exam.
The result was that I did not have to give them my bank card. If the insurance company does not pay the full bill I just have to pay the balance. They told me that, “for your convenience you can pay any balance on-line or by mailing a check.” So much for a “free” check-up.
My experience at the lab was similar. Before they would take my blood or urine samples I was required to sign an authorization for them to take as much as $456 from my debit card if the insurance company does not pay them.
The “free” Preventive Service check-ups are definitely not free. The doctor and lab, rightfully, demand payment for their services and supplies. I have no problems paying them what they charge.
My problem is with politicians who are telling people that Preventive Check-Ups are “free.” That term implies that there is no cost to anyone. That is incorrect. Every time you have a “free” check-up, there is a bill generated. That bill is sent to your insurance company. If for any reason they deny the bill, you will be responsible to pay your doctor or lab any remaining bill.
Doctors and labs are for-profit businesses. They do not give their services away for free. They expect payment and are willing to send their bill to “collections” if they are not paid by your insurance company or you.
The lesson to be learned from my experience is not to neglect your annual physical. It is just to call ahead to see what will be required from you so you are not surprised when you show up for your “free” physical and are asked for your credit/debit card at the same time they ask for your insurance card.