Clip and Copy: Explaining your fees

This handout spells out the "hidden" services patients never see.

This handout spells out the "hidden" services patients never see.

Most consumers have little trouble understanding why a leather wallet costs more than a nylon one. Or why a Rolls-Royce costs more than a Ford. But for many patients, there's something mysterious about a doctor's bill. Beyond the time spent and treatment rendered, what precisely do those fees cover?

To help your patients understand what they—or their insurance carriers—are paying for, we've put together the patient handout below. It spells out the basics, but also touches on the "hidden" services—those things you and your staff do that patients never see or simply take for granted. These include creating and maintaining an accurate medical record, follow-up calls and letters, coordinating tests and other referrals, insurance paperwork, and the like. In short, it should help put those "outrageous" fees in perspective.

Naturally, the entire list of such services may not be applicable to every practice. For this reason, we invite you to customize the letter to suit your practice. We also suggest that you hand it out selectively—to patients who may be surprised by or upset at your bill. Other patients probably don't need to see it.

Whatever way you choose to use the handout, this is your chance to speak directly to patients about a matter of common concern. We encourage you to photocopy the form (we've left room at the bottom for you to stamp your name). You can also have it—or a customized version—copied commercially.

—Senior Editor
Wayne J. Guglielmo

To view the form in Word you must have Word 2000 or better. If you don't have this program you can download the free Microsoft Word 97/2000 Viewer. (You cannot edit an open document in Word Viewer. However, you can copy text to the Clipboard to paste it in other applications).

Other forms and patient handouts are available in the Clip and Copy section of our Web site at .

Wayne Guglielmo. Clip and Copy: Explaining your fees. Medical Economics Oct. 10, 2003;80:110.