I want to cancel my rhinoplasty but my doctor's policy says I cannot get a refund. What can I do?
Doctor Answers 10
I want to cancel my rhinoplasty but my doctor's policy says I cannot get a refund.
Read this right now, because there may be something you can do if you do it today.
Then, when you pay for the surgery, many surgeons have a policy that if you cancel surgery, not for a medical reason, the doctor's written policies might say that he keeps a percentage of the fee. The reason that doctors do that, is so that if you cancel the day before surgery, the doctor now doesn't have anything to do the next day, and it's too soon to put someone else on his calendar. Usually, that provision will say that the office will keep a percentage of the total fee if you cancel **within X weeks of surgery.** So, if you cancel three months before surgery, they should refund everything, because three months is plenty of time for them to replace you on the calendar. Replacing you on their surgical calendar is the entire issue.
Some doctors, I guess, will keep 100% of the fee if you cancel, but that seems excessive to me.
And more: if you just arranged for surgery yesterday, and on that same day you want to cancel, and they won't refund your money 100%, that's gross, because if you just scheduled your surgery yesterday, cancelling you is not an inconvenience to them: it's not like you were on a booked-up schedule for months, and cancelled the day before surgery.
Here's what you can do now. If the office did not inform you, in writing, of the policy that they keep your money if you cancel, I don't believe they can legally keep it. Did you sign papers when you paid? Was it mentioned on the papers? Did they tell you about that provision and point it out to you when you signed?
Then, even if they did inform you, in writing, and you signed the papers, I believe most states have laws that allow you to change your mind within a day of making a purchase. That's why the airlines now let you know that if you make and pay for a reservation, you can cancel your reservation and get all your money refunded if you cancel within a day. That law extends to other consumer fees paid as well.
In either event, the office has already told you that they won't refund your money, so you must get help. Call your state's consumer protection office, and ask what help they can provide. They will let you know your rights--whether you should be allowed to cancel within a day, or a week even, or whatever those rights are.
If you live in New Jersey and the surgeon is in New York State, you could call the consumer protection office for both states, so if you get an unhelpful response from one and a helpful response from the other, you know what to do.
Then you can call the doctor's office right away, tell them that you have contacted the consumer protection agency, and that the office must refund your money, putting them on notice before any time limit for your protection expires. Don't tell the office in detail what the consumer people told you. Let them imagine it.
If you get no help from the consumer protection people, call the office anyway, tell them that there was nothing in writing saying you didn't get your money back. Or, if there was something in writing, tell them that they didn't tell you about it and direct your attention to it before you signed, so you shouldn't be held to it.
Also, for you to know, not to mention to the office, is that even if they told you, and you signed, a judge might consider the provision unreasonable and ignore it and award you your money back. You might have to contact an attorney, but that's for later, depending on how much money it was. And you would want an attorney who views it as a simple case, so he'll take it on contingency, charging you only a percentage of the refund. Don't ever hire an attorney for something like this NOT on contingency.
And write back and let us know what happens. You may also email me with more details if you wish. I don't guarantee I can be of any further help, though.
If you're having second thoughts about proceeding with rhinoplasty surgery, it may be best to hold off.
After making a commitment and setting a date for surgery, when patients change there mind about moving forward, they are refunded their entire fee minus $250.
Hope this helps you, and wishing you well.
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Best wishes and good luck
Richard G. Reish, M.D.
Harvard-trained Plastic Surgeon
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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.