Monthly Archives: February 2012

How quickly do you REALLY need to see the doctor?

Urgent care visits – cost more – plain and simple!

Doctors normally charge according to a book of CPT codes, which lists every procedure from splinter removal to surgery.  There are codes for routine procedures or office visits and codes for emergency (or urgent) visits. Extra time and urgent visits costs more.

An urgent visit could be one where you show up at the doctor without calling first.  Some doctors code urgent visits whenever a patient calls to be seen the same day, for say a bad cough or cold.

What a patient considers urgent, usually is different than what a doctor thinks is urgent.  Some patients wait too long to seek medical care, but it is more common for a patient to believe they need urgent attention when their problem could have waited a day or two.

If you aren’t sure, call your doctor first and ask.  Ask specifically if you need to be seen right away OR if your problem can wait for a non-urgent appointment.  Ask what you should do in the meantime to alleviate the symptoms and ask about anything that would alert you to the need for an emergency room visit or urgent care visit.

The idea is not to put your health at risk, but rather to allow your body to heal on its own.  For example:

  • Most sprained ankles don’t need immediate attention – if you can walk, odds are, it isn’t broken.
  • Sore throats and ear infections
  • Fevers associated with minor illness
  • Stomach flu or diarrhea
  • Broken small toe (not large toe)
  • Head colds and sinus infections
  • Sprains where you still have use of the affected limb
  • Insect bite/sting with local symptoms only

 CRM Tip:  If in doubt, call your doctor.  You may not need to be seen at all.


How to Prepare for a Doctor’s Appointment

Know why you are going and know what you want!

You can save money and time, by knowing why you are going to the doctor and what you hope to accomplish.  You can save money by saving time.  Charges for physician visits are not based solely on time spent with a patient, it does factor into the equation.  Many physicians note the time they enter a patient’s room and the time they leave, for billing purposes.  You can save money by doing the same.  Keep track and stay focused.

Much can be accomplished if your goals are clear.  Get a notebook and jot down your thoughts.  Make a list of what you hope to address.  Prioritize your needs and let your doctor know what concerns you most.  After your visit, make additional notes regarding your doctor’s comments and plans.

Your doctor is more likely to throw in a “freebie” if you make your requests known up front and stay on task.  If you wait until they are about to leave the room, they will groan inwardly and may adjust your bill upward.

Here are some tips:

  • If you are having bloodwork and forgot to fast, you may have to return
  • Is your knee hurting?  Wear shorts or a skirt to hasten the exam.
  • Bad toe?  Take off your socks and shoes – do you really want to pay the doctor to watch you take them off?
  • Need refills?  Check your prescriptions before you leave home.  Make a list of what you have and what you’ll need for your doctor to review.
  • Plan ahead and organize your thoughts
  • Check ahead if you need refills
  • Know your formulary
  • Bring a record of your blood sugar or blood pressure.
  • Fill out forms ahead that you need to have completed
  • Get a copy of the $4 list from your local pharmacy
  • Keep a notebook
  • Make a computer file of your medicines and print an updated list for every visit.
  • Type out two copies of an organized, detailed description of your problems with room for your doctor’s comments.