At this unprecedented time we have taken drastic measures to help keep our patients and staff safe. That has meant canceling a majority of patient visits to our office. One of the results of that change has been that, as a business, we are suffering greatly. Our physicians are no longer taking a salary and our staff has had their hours cut. Still, at this rate we may be unable to pay our staff at all within the next few months. Therefore, we find it necessary as a small business to look for new ways to generate revenue. So beginning Monday, April 6, we will start charging when your physicians answer telephone calls or portal messages. Many insurance companies were already paying for these services and that has expanded with the crisis, so it is likely that most patients will not have to pay out of pocket. Any insurance plans that do bill families for this probably do so based on the decision of the employer providing the insurance (so talk to your HR department). We also recognize that a lot of our families are suffering financially as a result of this crisis, so we encourage anyone receiving a bill from us for any service who feels paying the bill will be a hardship to call and speak with our office manager about delayed payments and payment plans.
Some things to know about how this works:
- The amount of the charge is based on the length of the call or the time it takes to answer the portal message, with the charge based on rates set by the federal government
- Most will be charged at the lowest time category, which will be $22 for phone calls and $23 for portal messages
- These charges will usually be steeply discounted by the insurance companies so the actual payment will be significantly less
- If the communication is about an office visit within the last 7 days or leads to a visit in the next 24 hours, then there is no charge
- Only 1 phone call per week will be billed for any specific issue
Again, we regret having to make this change at this time but we find it necessary to help ensure that we can stay open and continue to provide our patients with care when they need it.