I just had a doctor overcharge me (twice) and keep the extra money until I figured out what happened.
First, I was charged a $40 co-pay for the consultation before a minor surgery.
The next week I was billed another $40 to pay for part of the surgery the doctor’s office said was not covered by my insurance company.
Then I hear from my health insurance company. It says my co-pay was $30 and it covered all but $30 of the additional cost.
Needless to say, I called the doctor’s billing rep.
She said the doctor overcharged me on the co-pay for the first visit and kept a $10 credit on my account. Yes, on purpose. Yes, without telling me.
The second bill was a mistake, but once again the $10 overpayment was credited to my account without any notice and without asking if I’d like a refund.
Twenty bucks might not seem like much, but this practice screams rip off.
If I hadn’t called them out on it, I’d have paid $80 and had a credit of $20 on my account that’s worthless since I don’t plan on seeing that dermatologist ever again.
It seems I’m not alone.
The Wall Street Journal says an optometrist asked Atlanta attorney Michael Gurion to pay $70 for an exam and contact lenses.
But months later, when Mr. Gurion received an explanation of his benefits from his insurance company, it said he should have paid no more than $25.
What was the doctor doing with the difference?
Holding it as a credit toward future services without telling Mr. Gurion, who wasn’t a regular patient and didn’t intend to return.
The Journal suggests this is part of a trend in which physicians are no longer waiting to be paid by insurers before they try to collect more than just co-pays from patients.
If they’re ultimately paid too much, the extra is not refunded — it’s credited to a patient’s account.
I’m sympathetic to doctors who have bills to pay, too.
But as a patient you’ve got to know your co-pay before going to the doctor’s office and question any request to pay more until your insurance comes through.