Almost always, one longer visit with your doctor is cheaper than two shorter visits. (1 + 1 < 2)
The immediate savings for insured patients is obvious, with only one co-payment due rather than two. But even for self-pay patients, longer visits are often more cost effective.
Doctors don’t like to be surprised by extra problems or work on two problems in the time allotted for one. So, the answer to this is to simply plan ahead and when you call for your appointment, explain the situation and request more time. If a longer appointment is not available at the original appointment time, ask for a different time or different day. Your doctor will want to allow sufficient time to address your multiple concerns adequately. Calling ahead alerts the office staff to the need of special coding (modifiers) when a procedure (such as an ear infection or wart removal) is combined with a Pap Smear or Breast Exam.
Plan ahead and your doctor will work with you for a happier solution.
CRM Tip: The list is endless, but the point is clear. Two problems take longer than one, but one visit is cheaper than two.
Unless you are having heart by-pass surgery or perhaps a hysterectomy, you probably don’t need to go to a specialist.
For common illnesses such as acne, asthma, or anxiety, your good old family physician is well equipped to diagnose and treat these conditions most of the time and odds are, they will save you money.
Not only is your doctor likely to charge you less, overall family doctors are less likely to order expensive testing. Specialists often look for a definite diagnosis, whereas your family doctor may focus more on symptom relief. He or she may offer a therapeutic trial of medicine, reserving expensive testing for conditions that aren’t easily resolved.
Family or primary care doctors aren’t just for colds and sore throats, they’re trained to handle 90 to 95% of all conditions encountered in their daily practice. This list of conditions is long and overlaps considerably with a broad range of sub-specialities.
If you have a problem and wonder whether your doctor can handle it, give your doctor a call and if they cannot, then they will refer you to a trusted specialist, ideally one that they would be willing to see themselves!
Below is a partial list of conditions that family doctors treat on a daily basis, which normally do not require a specialist:
- Acne, psoriasis, eczema, headache, migraine, insomnia, anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, stress
- Ear infection, hearing loss, dizziness
- Pink eye, styes, scleral hemorrhage
- Allergies, sinusitis, nose bleed
- Mouth ulcers, thrush, tonsillitis, parotiditis
- Swollen glands, goiter, stiff neck
- Asthma, COPD, emphysema, laryngitis
- Stable heart failure, stable angina, chronic atrial fibrillation, most heart murmurs, most palpitations, most chest pain
- Acid reflux, ulcers, indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel, hemorrhoids
- Urine infections, kidney stones, overactive bladder, prostate infection or enlargement
- Pap smears, birth control, menopause
- Diabetes, thyroid disease, weight loss or gain, obesity
- Back pain, sciatica, gout, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, warts, nail fungus
CRM Tip: Did you know consultants charge more, often considerably more, for what is frequently the same service your family doctor may render?
Does your doctor know you?
Doctors assist patients without charging them, for refills on prescriptions to phone advice. That is… if your doctor knows you! If your doctor doesn’t know you, these things are not available to you.
Even if you are rarely ill, it is a good idea to see your doctor once a year. You can use this appointment to discuss updating vaccines, routine screening tests, or perhaps that itch or dark spot you wouldn’t bother to seek medical attention for otherwise. Such a visit could last only a few minutes and cost considerably less than a longer visit for an illness. Patients who see their doctors at least once a year, would benefit from effective partnering as well.
Longer office visits usually cost more than shorter visits, but still less than multiple appointments, and have the advantage of saving a second co-pay.
CRM Tip: Are you a student? Can you go to your student health center on campus for routine things first? Great idea and it will save you money!