Private medical fees can be bad practice
Treating the symptom, not the disease.
Seriously; I implore our local general medical practitioner community to take a serious look at their private fees policies and have some sense of compassion with respect to their application; particularly for those unfortunate souls in our community that are on disability or suffer mental and other severe illnesses, or on other minimum or limited income.
Locally, and perhaps beyond, as I have not done extensive research beyond our local borders, some medical practitioners are charging a variety of fees outside of those allowed by the Medical Services Plan. They call them private fees. These fees policies reflect a reaction to systemic failures of our medical system.
While I am not aware of similar policies in all our local clinics, I can speak specifically about one here in the Valley that clearly announces their private fee schedule.
At first look these fees may seem justifiable or even fair. Fees may be for driver’s licence medicals, medical insurance travel forms, disability forms (which I am assuming might be for completion of the forms necessary for, say, tax purposes, the application for a disability tax certificate) and even for no show appointments (a practice gaining popularity by other practitioners such as dentists). I call the no show fee treating the symptom, not the disease.
Let me ask the rhetorical question; if government forms completion and certain licence medicals are required by other levels of government in our taxpayer based medical system; then why would the cost of doctors or their administrative staff time NOT be covered by our medical system through the MSP fees schedules? Seems odd to me. Travel medicals on the other hand I can see are a luxury item, so fair enough on this fee.
I am personally shocked to see some local doctors charging separate fees specifically for disability forms completion and no show appointments. Surely there are other ways of dealing with these issues. For instance a visit for purposes of disability form completion is in fact a consultation, which in my view should be covered by a certain level of fees. If not, then the medical community should put this into their next round of negotiations on MSP fees schedules and not take it out on their clients.
There are many levels of disability in our society. But in most cases the folks that need a disability form completed or miss an appointment are desperate by any stretch of the imagination. They most often have no money. They certainly don’t command the six digit salaries of our medical practitioner community. Adults on disability are usually living far below the poverty line, trying desperately to pay for rental housing (if they’re lucky), food, clothes and personal care items. These people are so desperate that they rely on food banks, food hampers and handouts of various sorts. They certainly don’t own cars and have to walk most places in footwear that is in tatters. Can’t say I’ve seen many local doctors getting a meal down at the local food bank; and I made a supporting visited down there recently.
And, many of those on disability suffer from terrible afflictions, such as severe mental illness, who might have difficulty remembering whether they actually have eaten lunch or not, or a meal in general, do not have “smart” phones, do not have alarm clocks, who can’t sleep without treatment based drugs and when they do they couldn’t wake up to some sort of predetermined schedule if they tried. And yet, local doctors place themselves in an embarrassing position of charging no show fees for these poor unfortunate souls who may need treatment. I wonder, would these same medical practitioners deny these same people medical treatment unless they pay the no show fees first?
We respect our medical specialist community, we get it, we live in a fees-for-services society and like many other professional folks, doctors work hard, are very specialized, spent considerable effort and money to get where they are today and should be able to garner fair and reasonable compensation for that knowledge and experience. I would hope that medical professionals did not just get into their profession strictly for the money, that they in fact care about and get satisfaction from providing medical help to the citizens of their community. But somehow, charging someone living on disability, below the poverty line, a fee for a no show seems, how can I say it politely — really bad practice.