General Question

OuterHaven's avatar

Can i see a doctor without medical insurance?

Asked by OuterHaven (122points) February 13th, 2010

as the title says, i have no medical insurance but i would still like to see a doctor. Im just not sure of the process, would i just pick any doctor and show up to make an appointment and pay for the visit? how does it work?

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15 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Yes. When you call them tell them you don’t have insurance and ask how much the appoinment is. They will probably have you pay in full at the time of the appointment.

OuterHaven's avatar

@JLeslie is it usually expensive.

Mamradpivo's avatar

Depending on why you want to see the doctor, you may want to look into an outpatient clinic. In the past few years, lots of 24-hour non-emergency clinics have opened up across the US that allow people to come in without an appointment, be treated within a reasonable amount of time and not pay a fortune. You don’t get the life-long experience of working with the same doctor, but for an awful lot of medical issues, that may not be necessary.

MagsRags's avatar

Some offices will give a small discount for paying in full at the time of the visit – it doesn’t hurt to ask. But you’re right, it is expensive.

The urgent care type clinics @Mamradpivo is referring to can be a good choice if your issue is something short term that needs evaluation and maybe treatment. A retail clinic can be even more affordable if your issue fits into their criteria. For chronic health problems like hypertension or diabetes or asthma, you really need a medical home. Urgent centers don’t manage long term conditions.

dpworkin's avatar

A doctor may ask for payment at the time services are rendered if you are self pay.

gasman's avatar

@Mamradpivo aka “Doc-in-a-Box” It has its place.

jazzjeppe's avatar

Here in Sweden, yes :)

JLeslie's avatar

Prices vary a lot depending where you live, and generally first appointments are more expensive. The walk in clinics mentioned above could be a good idea as others have mentioned, depending on your problem. You might want to call 2 or 3 doctors to compare not only price, but how they handle the call might give you insight to the general level of customer service. If your problem is very specific to one body part you might want to go straight to a specialist, if the specialty is obvious.

janbb's avatar

I have heard of people who have negotiated paying much less than the stated price when they say they don’t have insurance. Often, the posted fees are what they will bill the insurance company and if you ask, they may reduce them a lot for you.

Nullo's avatar

In some cases, the doc will just have you pay the co-payment. My mom, for instance, wore out the insurance’s patience with physical therapy expenses (shoulder trouble), and the PT just asked her to keep paying her end.

DrMC's avatar

yes, but talk up front with the “boss” (not the doctor – the office manager).

Some offices may refuse. There are “free clinics” that agree to see patients based on ability to pay, and in exchange they are given more generous reimbursement by medicaid.

Also talk to a social worker at a hospital to start for advice, and if it applies discuss with medicaid.

If the dems weren’t so stupid, you might be in a better position at this point. Alas they were more interested in money from trial lawyers, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies.

Work through it, the future will be better, not that that helps you currently.

JLeslie's avatar

@DrMC Some offices may refuse? This is so annoying to me. I once had a fight with a receptionist because my primary had not faxed my referral, and I told her I would pay and worry about it later, and she wasn’t going to let me see the doctor. I mean, I am going to pay! I began to cry while explaining that I had waited a long time to see the doctor. I had been sick for years, it took everything in me to see another doctor. The doctor came out of his office (I was not screaming or anything, it was a very small office) and told his receptionist to stop it, and took me back to an exam room. He actually let me pay only my co-pay and said he would bill me if we could not straighten it out with my insurance company. But, I would have let him charge the whole thing to my visa if he had preferred.

After the appointment I went straight to my GP’s office to get the referral (this other doctor had been so understanding I did not want him to be delayed in getting paid, or to have deal with any confusion after the fact). The receptionist at my GP’s office said there was nothing she could do for me today (it was about 1:30 in the afternoon). I told her they had made the mistake, the specialist had been very understanding, and I wanted to ensure everything was done today. She told me again “no.” So I said, “You will have to call security to remove me, or you can give me the referral.” And, what do you know, I got it. Now, why does it have to be like that? Why doesn’t she want to help?

I take issue with you that the doctor is not involved in payment. Isn’t he the one providing the service? If the office handles it well, then great. But, if they don’t (which happens all the time, I am amazed at how awful the service is in many doctors offices) isn’t it the doctor running his business? Or, I guess in some practices the doctor is just a salaried employee?

MagsRags's avatar

When I was in independent private practice, I found out that medical offices actually can get into legal trouble if they get caught charging one amount for insured patients and a lower amount or copay only for self pay. The insurance companies don’t take kindly to it at all. The “pay up front cash discount” was our way of getting around it, since third party payors are never going to pay in advance, so technically we weren’t discriminating against Blue Cross/Blue Shield et al..

JLeslie's avatar

The whole thing is a racket. These people crying socialism don’t even realize that Medicare and private insurers pretty much sets prices already. Although you might have seen previouly a story I have told about a hospital wanting to charge my insurance over $400 for a medication, and when they wouldn’t, I was charged around $45 at my doctors office, but the medication was dispensed from the same pharmacy.

thriftymaid's avatar

Where have you been all of your life—- all 10 years of it?

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