The doctor’s office is a risky place for us 20-somethings with slim savings.
Maybe you need to go in for a routine physical. A persistent cough. A weird rash that WebMD couldn’t identify. Whatever it is, a $300 invoice probably isn’t part of the plan.
Besides, isn’t insurance supposed to cover almost everything?
When you do get stuck with a huge bill, a constellation of factors may be to blame, from insurance changes to out-of-network labs to improper billing.
Here’s how to tackle that sore throat, without getting slammed with surprise charges.
If you’re looking for a doctor, there are plenty of tools at your disposal: Recommendations from friends. Zocdoc. Googling “doctors near me.”
But before you make an appointment, it’s essential that you first call the office and find out whether they work with your insurance company.
That’s because the main culprit behind an unexpected bill is usually an “out-of-network” provider. They’ll still take your insurance, but there is no limit to what they can charge you, and your insurance company may cover only a small portion of it, or nothing at all.
“If you go to Dr. Smith and he doesn’t participate in your insurance plan, then he can pretty much charge whatever he wants,” said Orly Avitzur, medical director at Consumer Reports.
Her advice? Always call the office to guarantee that your specific plan is accepted by the physician you plan to book. Too often, the info on websites and in apps is out of date.
Asking whether they accept your insurance is not enough. You need to ask whether they are “in network” with your provider.
“Double check with the office staff,” Avitzur said. “Then write it down. Keep a…