According to the American Medical Association, doctors are allowed to charge patients for missed appointments – but how much can your doctor really charge you? Is $100 a fair charge, or should the expected fee be something closer to $20? According to research, the average fee for a missed appointment ranges between $20 and $60, although some people have reported paying even more for a missed appointment.
A patient should be informed of a no-show charge prior to missing the appointment and being charged for it. I know some doctors will give patients a warning if they miss one appointment and charge for any missed appointments thereafter.
If you were unaware that you’d be charged, we recommend calling your doctor’s office and talking to the staff about it. In some cases, they may be willing to reduce or remove the fine.
Why Is My Doctor Charging Me for Missing an Appointment?
It’s easy to get annoyed when your doctor charges you for missing your appointment. Yet, understanding the reasons why doctors charge patients for missed appointments can help make it a little less irritating. It is estimated that missed appointments cost the healthcare industry upwards of millions of dollars each year. Here’s why:
- Staff time is spent rescheduling and following up
- The doctor and staff waste time because there is nothing to do if the patient does not show up
- Doctor generates less money than he would on a typical fully booked day
- Takes away from other patients who are trying to make an appointment and could have taken your spot
- If 13% of patients do not show up to their appointments, a doctor would lose upwards of $30,000 a month.
After looking at these facts and numbers, it’s a little easier to understand why doctors often charge for missed appointments.
Will Medicare Pay for it?
Medicare policies allow doctors to charge for a missed appointment. Although, Medicare will not pay for missed appointments, and the same goes for most private insurance policies. Therefore, in almost all cases, if you are charged for a missed appointment it will come out of your personal bank account.
Could You Fight the Charge?
In some cases, you might be able to fight the charge for a missed doctor appointment. Although, if you’ve signed any type of paperwork that mentions charges for missed appointments, you’re pretty much stuck paying it unless the office staff is in a good mood. We recommend talking to the office as soon as possible about the issue to see if there’s anything they can do to reduce or eliminate the charge. Oftentimes, they will give you a warning the first time, so if you’ve never missed an appointment before, make sure to bring this up.
Ways to Prevent Paying for Missed Doctor Appointments
- Set Reminders
It’s easy to forget you have a doctor appointment, especially if you made the appointment a while ago. Whenever you make an appointment, set a reminder on your phone, Alexa device, or write a big note and stick it on the middle of your refrigerator. Whatever it takes so that you don’t forget about the appointment.
- Call Ahead
If you realize that you will not be able to make it to your appointment, call ahead. Most doctors advise calling at least 24 hours ahead of your appointment to avoid a penalty fee.
Let’s say you realize you can’t make it 5 hours before your appointment, should you still call? Yes! Even if you are an hour-out from your appointment, it’s always best to call. By calling you decrease the likelihood you will be charged for missing the appointment. Plus, it gives you a chance to talk to office staff and possibly talk them out of billing you for the missed appointment.
- Solve Transportation Issues
Lack of transportation is a leading reason why people miss doctor appointments. Non-emergency medical transportation can help ensure you never miss appointments again by getting you to your scheduled visit on time.
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