Hello. Recently I saw a plastic surgeon in new Orleans la. I read his website thoroughly and there was no mention of a consultation fee. I went to my appointment and at the very end the nurse said"oh there is a $150 consult fee." nothing in the office or on the website that states this. I paid it and now I am mad!! How can he charge an undisclosed fee?
No Mention of Consultation Fee and Was Told at the Very End?
Doctor Answers (9)
You should be told or you should ask before going in
Every office handles this differently. I think you as well as the office is at fault. You should ask before going in about consultation fee. The office should tell you when you first call to set up an appointment that there is a fee.
To charge a fee or not
depends a lot on the market dynamics and the surgeon involved. Before feeling used and abused, did his website mention anything about a free or complimentary consultation? All doctors who do provide free consultations clearly have this on their sites to encourage people to see them. If you doctor did not, it would have been more logical to assume there was a fee associated with your consultation and subsequently your responsibility to ask about what it would cost. Most things in life are not free. Perhaps he deducts it from your procedure if you chose him... then it becomes 'free'.
This was probably an oversight by the office staff and not something malicious or contrived in a covert fashion by the surgeon. $150 is not a lot of money in today's dollars so the surgeon is not greedy in that sense. I am sure that if you book the surgery within a reasonable amount of time the surgeon would be willing to credit the consult fee towards surgery. It is unreasonable for you to expect free consults. On the contrary you should expect to pay for a consultation and if not informed before coming in to the office ask what it is. Even if you do not book the surgery the surgeon incurs the costs of making a medical chart, paying for the phone and office rent to see you etc. He or she is a professional and should be respected as such. You do not expect your plumber to come in to your home, do assessments and give you estimates for free so why should your surgeon.
Spending a few hundred dollars to see a few surgeons before deciding on surgery and a surgeon is certainly worth it when you consider the costs of making the wrong decisions.
I hope you realize that this format of posting questions and receiving answers lacks the face to face direct communication required for you to make an informed decision regarding your surgery.
My response to your question/post does not represent formal medical advice or constitute a doctor patient relationship. You need to consult with i.e. personally see a board certified plastic surgeon in order to receive a formal evaluation and develop a doctor patient relationship.
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My office clearly tells patients about consult fees before the appointment, so there is no confusion. But on the other hand, charging a consultation fee is totally appropriate when going to a doctor in consultation to seek an expert opinion about treatment, etc..
Discuss Consultation Fee When Making Initial Appointment
Some plastic surgeons charge a consultation fee whereas others offer complimentary initial consultations for aesthetic procedures. You can always ask the receptionist about this at the time that you make your initial appointment.
You should be notified of the consult fees before your consultation. Same thing applies to your surgery fees. Sounds like they forgot to mention it to you. You should express your concerns to the office and your surgeon. Surgeons want happy surgical patients, not patients upset over initial consult fees.
It is customary to notify and collect consultation fee prior to the consult itself. I am surprised as you are that you were never told about the fee. In most situations the office will write off the fee if you talk to them about your concern. No physician would like to have angry patient over a fee that was not fully disclosed.
On the one hand, the physician is entitled to charge a fee for consultation, many do, many do not. In the setting where some do not charge, it is understandable that there may be confusion to the patient.
The lesson here is perhaps more appropriate to surgeons than to patients. I doubt any of us would want to trade $150 for an angry patient! Let the office know of your complaint.
Thank you for your question, best wishes.
Knowing Cost: Shared responsibility of doctor and patient alike.
Although we do not charge for initial visits, many other plastic surgeons do and they are perfectly right to do so. We used to and will probably charge in the future or at least apply it to their surgery. $150 is a reasonable fee.
Prior to the 2008 economic downturn, most board certified plastic surgeons charged for cosmetic consultations. After 2008, Plastic Surgeons became one of the few specialties where some of its members did not to charge for their time at the initial consultation or else simply applied it to the surgeon's fee. The reason is that during the economic downturn a tremendous amount of non-board certified plastic surgeons doing cosmetic surgery did not charge so that the public was directed towards less trained individuals. This circumstance continues to this day.
These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.