And unfortunately, many insurance companies aren't yet paying for these fees. Others provide their own after-hours advice services to supplement the advice that your doctor might provide.
Why Do Doctors Charge For Phone Calls?One big reason is to simply to help cover office expenses. This is very often necessary if the Pediatrician uses an after-hours service to help handle the phone calls. These services have become popular in the last few years and involve all or most phone calls being routed to an after-hours nurse or doctor triage service which follows set protocols to provide advice for common Pediatric problems.
Both parents and Pediatricians tend to like these services, but they tend to be expensive, and most doctors have to either share or pass the expensive on to the caller.
But even if a Pediatric office doesn't use one of these services, they may have other expenses that may justify charging for phone calls. This can include extra staff to deal with insurance companies and the need to move to electronic medical records.
Does Your Pediatrician Charge For Phone Calls?In addition to after-hours phone calls, some office charge for refills, filling our school and camp forms, answering email, and many other 'extras,' which sometimes add up to an hour or two of your Pediatrician's day.
Poll:Does your Pediatrician charge for after-hours phone calls?
Keep in mind that offices that don't charge likely pass on that expense somewhere else. At least by charging for the after-hours call, they are charging the person who is using the service, instead of spreading it out across all of the patients, such as by raising the cost of an office visit. But since insurance companies usually dictate what a doctor gets paid for an office visit and it is not just what the doctor charges, they usually can't simply pass on fees for all of the extra things they do like other professions do.
And a small charge for an after-hours call will likely still be less expensive than a visit to the emergency room or an after-hours clinic.