To the editor:
I was recently referred to the Columbia Pain Management Clinic in Hood River, by my local primary care provider. Per my provider, this clinic is the only one in the local area that could do the specialty procedure that I was requiring.
I was not referred to this clinic for the purpose of narcotics or pain controlling drugs. This clinic requires mandatory drug screens for new patients, and randomly, thereafter, (even when the patients are not requesting or the providers are not prescribing narcotics or pain meds), so I proceeded to submit my sample on my very first visit with this clinic. I had a follow up visit two weeks later and was “randomly” chosen for a drug screen, so again, I submitted my sample for testing.
When I received my bill for these drug screens, imagine my surprise when the cost of each screen was over $500; $1,000 was billed to my insurance for the purpose of two urine drug screens. (The company I work for drug screens employees upon hire and post accident, the cost for these screens is approximately $60 per screen).
After I picked myself up off the floor, I called their billing office and when I asked if this could be an error, she politely told me, that, “Our drug tests screen for 10 different things and the insurance companies will pay our charges.”
I then asked if it was procedure to disclose the cost of the drug screens when new patients arrive at their clinic. She informed me, yes, it was procedure for the cost of the drug screen to be disclosed to all new patients. She looked in my chart and discovered that on the day I was seen, the front desk neglected to disclose this information to me. When I asked if patients paying cash, without insurance were charged the same rate, she would not directly answer the question. She just kept telling me that patients were to be informed of the cost when they checked in and arrangements for payment could be made.
She again apologized that I was not informed of the cost when I checked in, and she would be willing to discuss payment options.
I will no longer be visiting this clinic as a patient, and will look at other options for the procedure that I was hoping would be of benefit.
I understand that healthcare is expensive, but I strongly believe $1,000 for two urine drug screens is excessive. Do ya think this just might be one of the reasons health insurance is so expensive?