Even if you do your financial homework ahead of an expensive procedure, surgery or emergency room visit, you might get hit with heft charges from a physician or other professional that you didn’t even know was involved in your case.
Referred to as “drive-by doctoring,” this practice could involve a physical therapist who only helped you walk from your bed to the bathroom, a journey of a few feet that could cost you $400 or more when the bill arrives.
But that’s an example at the low end of this pricey practice. Peter Drier, 37, told the New York Times that he had a three-hour neck surgery for herniated disks in December, only to find that he was blindsided by a whopping $117,000 bill from an “assistant surgeon” whom Drier did not ever recall meeting.
Says the Times report: “The phenomenon can take many forms. In some instances, a patient may be lying on a gurney in the emergency room or in a hospital bed, unaware that all of the people in white coats or scrubs who turn up at the bedside will charge for their services.”
“Drive-by doctoring” increases revenue for physicians and other health care workers. Meanwhile, insurers are cutting down reimbursement for many services which has helped fuel these surprise charges for unknowing patients
The practice often involves out-of-network providers who bill 20 to 40 times the usual local rates.