At my endo appointment last week, the good woman reminded me that she hadn't seen my "full-body" test results for a while: my most recent eye exam, mammogram and pap smear. This turned out to be a good reminder, as the former two were last done a full year ago and it was time to reschedule (sigh). What a pain! More appointment-making and driving around and time out of my schedule for unpleasant tests.
But here's the part that just put me over the edge: she asked, perfectly reasonably, that I request that the latest results from my other doctors be faxed over to her office for my file. I called the eye doctor, and that was a snap. But then I called my OB/GYN's office. I was put on hold for a very long time, and when the clerk returned she said I'd have to fill out a Medical Disclosure form for them to share my test results with another doctor's office. Really? I don't remember ever doing that before... but OK, fax it over and I'll fill it out.
After that bit of paperwork, I heard nothing. So a few days later I called to check if the results had been sent and was told, "No, um, we require a $20 processing fee and you haven't paid that yet." WtF?
"Yes, ma'am. That's the processing fee."
"What?! I never heard of that before!"
"Well it's the policy."
"I... I don't know. But it's the current policy."
"You have to be kidding me! As if it weren't expensive enough to be chronically ill," I bellowed (losing it a little). "When you have a chronic illness you HAVE to have your physicians share records — it's not some kind of luxury! And now you're telling me that I have to pay an extra twenty bucks to have one doctor send a piece of paper to another?!"
"That's the policy, yes."
"SINCE WHEN?!" I brayed. "What's all this talk about a 'healthcare team'? These people are charging us to share a lousy test result nowadays?"
"I've been told there's a processing fee..."
"Listen, I'll tell you what," I interjected: "I'M THE PATIENT, so that information belongs to me. Why don't you just TELL me the test results and then I'll pass the info on to my doctor myself — and save the twenty bucks!"
"Just a minute, ma'am," she said, still incredibly calm and polite.
"Hello, ma'am? Um yes, we'll just fax that info over to Dr.[X]'s office for you, OK?"
"OK?! Yeah, OK. That's all I was asking for," I said too loudly, and then hung up without saying thank you.
I know, I know: one accomplishes much more with kindness than with rancor. I just couldn't help myself. I was livid.
How about you? Encountered any surprising healthcare fees lately that seem to mysteriously come and go?