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Seeing a Doctor at the Hospital or Private Practice?

As we’re becoming more and more used to insurance company deductibles and coinsurance, we have to be even more aware of our medical expenses.  Health care today is more convoluted and confusing than ever.  One of the issues many patients are facing is the decision of seeing a doctor who is on staff at a hospital or hospital system as opposed to a doctor in private practice.  As we have noticed in our area, many hospital systems are acquiring private practices.  This is obviously to better their presence in their area and capitalize on the existing population of patients the private sector has.  Health care is a business, we should all as patients understand and accept that.  Now then, as we’re in the middle of receiving services, the provider (be it doctor or hospital) getting paid for said service and the insurance paying said services we need to be cautious about expenses as we would with any other goods or services we receive.  Why are we mentioning this?

The truth of the matter is, when a hospital staff doctor sends a bill to the insurance he/she is billing their part plus a fee for the facility.  By comparisson, when a private practice doctor bills for their services, they are billing only for their services, and normally they’re not allowed to invoice for the facility fees.  As we understand it from multiple sources we have read a hospital’s invoice for facility fees when a patient is seen by their staff doctor at their office.  The facility fee pertains the use of the hospital premises, staff and supplies.  While this sounds like a logical fee for some, keep in mind the cost for your visit may be as much as 3 or 4 times higher than when you see a private doctor at his office.

Take a look at this article published by the ORLANDO SENTINEL:

Independent doctors like law that discloses facility fees

While this article is now about 2 years old, it describes a practice and matter that is important for all of us to understand before we see a doctor.  As it describes, even the same doctor who, last month was in private practice and today is a hospital staff doctor will show different fees for the same service.  This may be true even if the doctor has not changed physical location.  Please keep that in mind as some of these costs add up very easily and your portion will obviously rise with it.  Ask about this before seeing your doctors.