Thursday, May 8, 2014


Mary: "Dr. Grumpy's office, this is Mary."

Mr. Gratis: "Hi, I need to see the doctor."

Mary: "Okay... We have an opening tomorrow at 2:30. What insurance do you have?"

Mr. Gratis: "I don't have insurance."

Mary: "All right, our cash prices are..."

Mr. Gratis: "Oh, there's no charge for the visit. I was referred by Boondock Hospital."

Mary: "What?"

Mr. Gratis: "I was seen in the ER at Boondock Hospital last week, and they told me I should see a neurologist. Your name was on the list they gave me."

Mary: "Yes, but we still charge for the visit."

Mr. Gratis: "It's supposed to be free. A hospital referred me!"

Mary: "I understand that, but it doesn't mean we don't bill for our services."

Mr. Gratis: "I can give you the name of the doctor there. Can you bill her? Or the hospital?"


Unknown said...

She might have been an immigrant from a more civilized country, where that's exactly how it works.

Mad Jack said...

Oh yeah, one of those countries without a Bill of Rights. I hear someone else pays for everything there.

Syrlinus said...

As a Canadian (where there is a Charter of Rights), I could see this as being a Canadian doing this. And yes, it's all covered by the taxes that are paid into the tax system and used on the citizens that the system is designed to support (those that are between jobs, cannot work and can work).

But even as a Canadian, this made me chuckle because even I know that in the US I should expect a bill with every visit, even with insurance (still makes me shake my head)

Anonymous said...

WOW! Someone in your office can quote a cash price for your services!?! Amazing. I'm still trying to find out what this shingles vaccine is going to cost me, and it's been three months. Kudos to Mary!

Packer said...

Try getting a body shop to fix your car without insurance.

Ask you plumber to repair your faucet pro bono.

A growing number of people in our country believe that all manner of things should be supplied them by others gratis.

And if you differ with that view, you are the one who is labeled with the problem.

Fire up the flamethrowers.

Anonymous said...

We actually had a situation where a family member had a surgery and it didn't turn out perfectly. The doctor said he was a perfectionist and he wanted it to be perfect, but he needed to refer so my family member to a different doctor who was an expert in that field. The referring doctor said he would pay for it and he did! It was another surgery and the referring doctor offered to pay, and then he followed through. I was in shock. And yes, this was in the United States and it was fairly recent.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:17

Our local RiteAid charges almost $300 for the shingles vaccine--and it is not covered by Medicare but is by some private insurances.

Anonymous said...

You silly man, don't you know, Obamacare made everything free. Free!

That is what the nice man who registered me to vote said. And I know he wouldn't lie.

Anonymous said...

Syrlinus, I too am Canadian and I would suggest that before you act too smug to look into Section 33 of the Charter, commonly known as the notwithstanding clause, this allows a simple majority vote by federal or provincial parliament to suspend Section 2 (Fundamental Freedoms) or Section 15 (Equality Rights).

Furthermore, I would also suggest you dig through the budgets and your own tax returns to determine what your health insurance premium really is.

Struck by a Turtle said...

@Syrlinus - Great. May work in Canada, but in America there are not enough people paying into the system to support anyone even if we were on socialized medicine. Our disability rates speak to that as well as our unemployment rates.

I agree with Anonymous, don't get too smug and shake your head at us until you understand just how dire our situation is. Then, don't judge us, rather pity us. Because when you are handed a bill in the US for medical care, you ARE paying for those who cannot.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 11:17am & 1:13pm Medicare absolutely covers a shingles vaccination if your 65 or older! However, I'm not sure about those who are disabled, etc., & on Medicare &/or Medicaid under the age of 65! I know @ least six people (one of which was my dad & I was w/ him @ the pharmacy) who waited for the 1st of the month of their 65th birthday for that exact reason! In my area all pharmacies (WAG, WAL, CVS, etc.) charge $250 (w/out coverage)! In an effort to "stand out" sometimes one or more locations will offer a $25 "bribe" card to pick them! Please check w/ Medicare as to why you're being told otherwise! 1.800.633.4227

Sent from my iPhone

celestriad said...

Yes, Medicare *Part D* covers the shingles vaccine. Parts A and B don't. That's probably why you had coverage issues... if you don't have a Part D plan, then you don't get Medicare coverage. It's a common point of confusion.

a.generic doc said...

And won't Mr. Gratis be surprised when the bills for his ER visit start showing up. If he has no insurance they will be charging him.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Grumpy,
Please have your excess charges sent to my account where money is really needed.
Ima Outwork
OU812 Suffering Place
Braindead, Washington DC

Anonymous said...

This is the Anonymous Shingles Vaccine woman. I'm 49, so my insurance won't cover it. :(

Moose said...

I see I missed whacky weed day.

Medicare is Medicare, whether you're over 65 or disabled. Same thing, same coverage, same requirement to get the crappy part D stuff.

And I don't know *what* Packer is smoking, but it's very easy to get an auto body shop to fix your car without insurance. "I'm paying cash" actually makes them drool. Less paperwork, less bull.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Moose, you came in after the beginning, where the expectation of the customer was explained to those paying attention....that was the "Free" part. Try and stay with us.

Anonymous said...

I pay $850.00 per month for insurance with a $10,000 deductible. It's so expensive I can't afford to take myself or my kids to the Dr. - I suppose that money is going somewhere. I hope they enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

My MD told me the shingles vaccine is only 51% effective and not worth the expense. Screw that.

Struck by a Turtle said...

@Anonymous Shingles Woman -- 49 years old and on Medicare already. Tsk tsk. Just WOW.

Before you post back, I don't want to know what your medical problems are because frankly, you are the problem that plagues our national healthcare system. So don't bother cataloging to me all your chronic conditions that were most likely brought on by bad life choices....But I digress.

Can't get a free shingles shot that I am paying for? Boo freaking hoo. Can't shed a tear.

Sorry. Actually, I'm not.

Anonymous said...

Haha! I had a guy drop of a prescription in the pharmacy from the local ER written for "albuterol CFC Free inhaler" (a standard drop-down selection I'm presuming) and tried to tell me because it said "free" in the drug name I should give it to him for free.

Lin said...

Struck by a Turtle, and many would say YOU are the problem with the system. The problem where those with actual medical problems are made to feel ashamed for needing to accept any type of assistance, be it state or federal and won't out of pride. Meanwhile those who don't give a damn and don't actually need to be receiving assistance, continue to milk it. Because they surely don't care what your opinion is.

I won't go further because I'm not trying to start a political debate here. It's not the place.

And you might want to check your reading comprehension before insulting someone. The anonymous woman never mentioned medicare, others did. She stated she was 49 and so her insurance wouldn't cover it. You don't know what type of insurance she has, or what her job is.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Lin! You nailed it. But I think Turtle has difficulty reading (and maybe hearing too) because s/he is currently having what the Car Talk guys call a "rectal-cranial immersion" (you get my drift).
The shingles vaccine lady cannot get the shot covered because she is age 49, i.e. deemed too young to need this vaccine. Is being too young a wrong life choice? Or is having had chickenpox earlier (increased shingles risk) the wrong life choice?
Oh well, maybe Turtle was just baiting.

Unknown said...

Gratis is my indonesian language means free. Is it a coincidence? :)

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