1. Yes, this is extremely common. I always ask for a detail breakdown of my expected costs before an elective procedure… and it’s almost always wrong/incomplete. I’ve also refused to pay for things I didn’t explicitly authorize.

    Usually the doctors, nurses, and admins are really apologetic about it though. In my experience they hate the insurance game just as much as I do. Sounds like you have a crappy doctor’s office. I wouldn’t patronize a place that wasn’t interested in being polite and helpful. If you decide to go somewhere else, be sure to nuke your original doctor’s office’s yelp page. Hurt ’em where it counts!

    There are a couple major problems with healthcare and consumer choice. One is information asymmetry, because there is very little chance you will ever know more than your doctor about whether a test/procedure is necessary or not. At the end of the day, we have to trust our healthcare providers.

    The other main problem is urgency blindness. While your experience wasn’t an emergency, it’s easy to imagine how much worse the unknown/unexplained costs could be in an emergency situation. You probably wouldn’t have the proper state of mind to research the cost of suturing a finger back on if you were sitting in an emergency room bleeding. Nor would you be in any state to argue with a doctor’s potentially costly recommendation.

    Which is why healthcare is not (nor will it ever be) a free market, and we should have universal single payer healthcare. 🙂

  2. My wife and I used to go back and forth with hospitals and clinics, because we didn’t have insurance. We would go in for something and tell them to let us know before they charged us for anything. Without fail, we would end up with a bill for something we didn’t authorize.

    Every. Single. Time. Seriously! It was ridiculous.

    They are used to dealing with patients who have insurance, which makes it even worse, because they tend to be more liberal with the charges when you have insurance. It’s a messed up system.

  3. My experience has been the same with doctors. It’s as if they say, “Welp, you need this stuff so who cares the cost.” Even though most of the time you do have options such as which doctor to go to and which course of treatment to pursue. They seem so out of touch.

    • I really hate that most doctors do this. They’re supposed to be helping people, not trying to screw us over so they can pay off their student loans.

  4. I have a severe allergy to cats, which I didn’t know I had until I started dating my partner. He didn’t have a cat personally, but a few of his relatives do, and I found myself with uncontrollable sneezing, itchy eyes and a runny nose. I had done some research online and one site mentioned that female kittens that are lighter in colour tend to have less of the protein that causes the allergy. Siberian cats are also one breed of cat that are considered hypoallergenic.

    I can’t say I’ve ever experienced that with my family doctor or any specialist. They’re pretty upfront with costs. They have signs posted by reception and will also mention it to me verbally.

    • Yes, I know about those other cats. Unfortunately I had my kitties before I met Kate and those hypoallergenic cats are costly. I got my two lovely cats for free.

      Isn’t it nice to find a decent family doctor? I like people who are just honest and tell it to you straight. I’m not against them charging for the treatment, I just want to know how much so I can decide whether or not to take it.

  5. That is just awful. I agree with Mrs. FW, definitely leave bad reviews where you can. They should have taken the time to explain things. Not having the time to go over it with patients is a horrible excuse. I also don’t really like dealing with any medical procedure for this reason. It does seem like there’s always something unexpected tacked on to the bill.

  6. That sucks! Now that I have crappy insurance I ask about every single cost every time they say they are going to do something, and I ask if it’s absolutely necessary. I hate to do it and I wish I had all the money in the world to be taken care of but I don’t. They will ding you for every thing imaginable. I also, by the way, throw in that any medical conditions might be due to stress from job loss or lack of income (whether I’m doing well or not) because they seem to be more upfront with costs when you say that.

    • Yes, now we know our lesson and will ask about every single thing. I like your idea about telling them you lost your job… if they play games, so can we.

  7. I can definitely feel your frustration! I mean, how come she expects everyone to know that the serum would cost that much?! I also hardly ever go to a doctor, and it’s definitely her job to give a brekdown of how much things are going to cost. Agree with other commenters. Leave bad reviews if you can, so that they realize they have crappy customer service.

  8. I agree that is absolutly rediculous. I deffinently agree that the office you went to seems to be very unprofessional. When asked the price of the shot she should have told you it with the cost of the serum included. I have never been to a doctors separate those costs when asked how much a shot was.

    I have never had that bad of an experience with a doctors office, but I have with a dentists office. I went in to get a tooth filled and he was running behind. He started the procedure and then left in the middle of it, because it was time for his vacation. He didn’t fill the tooth and I sound up loosing in in the end.

  9. Unfortunately this is really common and we now not only have to become self-advocates for our medical treatment, but we have to be self-advocates for the costs of our medical treatment. It is crazy how doctors don’t even know what is covered or not anymore. I usually call my insurance company myself before I let them do anything to me. You just can’t trust the system.

  10. They don’t have time to go over the costs with their CUSTOMERS?!?! That is insane! I have noticed that in this country, medical providers have the mindset that they are doing you a favor, rather than providing a service that you are buying and can shop around for.

    Doctors should be willing to tell us about every penny associated with their service, in the same way that a restaurant better tell me if something I order costs extra!

    I won’t go on a rant about healthcare in this country (maybe I’ll blog about it lol), but something has to change fundamentally.

    I do know that they charge a different price for insured people because the insurance companies put a cap on what they will pay for each procedure/visit. Non-insured people don’t have a group who does this on their behalf. The best analogy would be an employee union.

    I’m glad you had a large enough emergency fund to cover this without disrupting your life.

  11. Wow, I’m so happy to be in Canada! Ya, I had to wait for my testing, but I knew the cost upfront: $0!

    I can’t believe you weren’t given a full quote at your first appointment. How are you supposed to make a smart decision about whether to go ahead with the procedure?

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