As we move further and further into the digitalized age of everything being electronic, instant gratification, and the computerization of just about anything an everything, doctor's have begun to augment their payment programs. Fleeting are the days of "bill me later" if your insurance does not cover the expense of your entire medical bill. MD's are now requiring credit cards be put down to ensure payment of services is made. While there are definitely pros and cons of this practice, we'd like to know what you think. Should not having a credit card disqualify you from seeing your doctor? Why wouldn't you, then, just get a credit card?
DENVER - Jodi Holstein is in good health and pays thousands of dollars for health insurance, but that's not good enough for her Westminster doctor.
"I was outraged," says Jodi. Her doctor of 15 years is now requiring patients to leave a credit card on file and sign an authorization form allowing the doctor to charge that card whenever her health insurance won't cover the cost of her treatment, or is slow to pay.
"Basically what they are saying is if insurance doesn't cover it, we are going to charge your credit card and then it becomes your problem," Jodi says.
She was told that if she didn't sign the authorization form, she wouldn't see the doctor.
Jodi calls it 'blackmail,' and filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau against "Westmed Family Healthcare" and Dr. Michael Cavanaugh.
She asked her insurance company to investigate. Aetna informed her that Dr. Cavanaugh was not breaking any laws, and recommended that she find a new doctor.
We requested an on-camera interview with Dr. Cavanaugh, but he sent us a statement which read -in part- "Westmed Family Healthcare has a credit card policy in place that is compliant with our health insurance contracts and state law. This policy is common practice in the medical community."
Dr. Robert Gore is an OBGYN in Colorado. He understands why a physician would require a credit card on file. It's his policy too.
"This amount of money is (the patient's) responsibility to pay and it does have to come out of their pocket," Dr. Gore told us. He says physicians are getting squeezed in this economy just like everybody else is.
"We cannot afford to extend credit to all of our patients and we cannot afford to wait 3 or 4 months for them to pay the balance of their bill," he said.
Dr. Gore believes patients are going to see this kind of policy more often in the near future, much to the dismay of Jodi Holstein.
"I think it's a frightening trend," she said, saying it's just another way doctors are taking the "care" out of health care.
"I've always paid. I've done my part, now I am being treated like I can't be trusted."