You make the appointment with your doctor. It may be the first time you’re seeing this particular physician or dentist. Or it may be someone you’ve been seeing a long time. Either way… you’ve probably seen the sign in the office or the notice in the paper work. Words to the effect:
“If you need to cancel your appointment you must notify this office at least 24 hours hours (sometimes 48 hours) in advance or you will be billed for the missed appointment.”
Of course, this is a way to make sure the doctor stays busy seeing paying patients all day long. It’s even more important if the patient has decent health insurance. You better believe the health insurance company isn’t going to pay for a missed appointment.
But what if the doctor is the one who bails on you?
This happened to me recently.
I had set up an appointment with a rheumatologist I had seen years and years ago. He has a good reputation in the medical community and both my dermatologist and primary physician know him or know of him. All good.
This rheumatologist has a great website and a friendly staff. Of course, you have to fil out a ton of paperwork and, conveniently, it’s on the website. So far, so good.
The only problem, of course, is he can’t see me right away. He’s a busy guy. Good reputation and all that. So I make an appointment for several weeks away. No big deal. I don’t have a life threatening issue. Lots of people have it worse than me and I’ve been living with this particular pain in my neck (literally) for months.
The appointed day arrives (note: appointed day…as in I have an appointment for that day). I get a call from a chipper staff member telling me that the good doctor called in sick that day and she’ll need to set up a new appointment.
Here’s the thing. The appointment isn’t for the next day. It’s not even for anytime in the next week. It’s another full three weeks away.
The Bill’s in the mail
Of course, I go along. The staff member is very chipper and apologetic and she’ll see if she can fit me in with the first cancellation (remember cancellations? the one’s you need to make or get billed for if you don’t.)
I do get a call a couple of days later for a ½ hour slot the next day. The next day my schedule is booked, thank you very much, and as much as I’d like to drop everything and rearrange my schedule to accommodate the good doctor, I don’t do it. I stick with the original, re-scheduled appointment.
What I would love to do, of course, is send this rheumatologist a nice, fat bill for the missed appointment. Of course, I need to betolerant, understanding and compassionate about the fact that he was sick. Certainly nothing that he scheduled (let’s hope it wasn’t a hangover from the previous day’s playoff games).
I mean who knows that the one day I had an appointment would also be the day he would be sick.
So, no, the bill is not in the mail. He would probably laugh it off anyway. Or cop an attitude or something. He’s the doctor and I just want to stay on his good side so he’ll treat me and listen to me about my ailment and not do something rash.
Still, wouldn’t it be nice if when the doctor cancels you could send the bill for the time you arranged to take off (several hours, if not the whole day), arrange for day care or whatever else needs to happen.
Yeah. It would be nice.
I’m not holding my breath.