Effective September 1, 2016

Our practice has implemented an Administrative Services Fee to be paid by all its patients to cover the significant amount of time we have to spend on providing these administrative services which are not covered by any federal, state or private health insurance coverage.  These third-party payors cover professional medical services and certain activities considered to be included in the services.  There will be no change in our policies regarding co-payments, deductibles, etc.  We are also including some additional services which we think will assist in our continuing to provide excellent medical care to our patients.

We have found it necessary to implement this policy due to the continuing deterioration of the economics of managing an office-based primary care practice.  You may or may not know that third-party payors, including Medicare, have not significantly increased the fees paid to us in well over a decade.  Medicare, in particular, has raised what it pays primary care physician slightly, but not significantly.  During that same time period, the office overhead of typical primary care physicians has risen over 100%.

The administrative services will include access and use of an online patient portal we are developing for scheduling appointments, accessing test results, medical records, and for other purposes.  We want to continue to maintain our small medical practice structure and culture while competing with large providers such as Kaiser and Sutter but need additional funds to develop these services.  The services will also include the time we need to spend completing prescription refills, a variety of pre-authorizations required by many third-party payors, coordinating referrals to specialists, making follow-up calls, and reviewing and completing paperwork such as insurance forms, disclosures, and other government forms.  The purpose of the fee is to compensate us for the significant amount of time we must spend outside of our actually providing you medical care.  We may find it necessary to increase these administrative services and the fees depending upon circumstances.

If you are a new patient receiving a copy of our policy, we will not require you to pay the fee prior to your first appointment.  Once we and you have decided that you will become an ongoing patient of our practice, then the fee will be due.  If you have out-of-town guests or relatives who need to be seen, they also will be treated for their initial appointment without a fee.

As mentioned above, this fee is charged to all patients of our practice.  If you pay the fee monthly and decide to leave our practice, your fee will be discontinued upon 30-days’ notice to us of your intent to leave the practice.  If you pay annually, you are receiving a discount and the fee is not refundable except in special circumstances.

If it is demonstrated that your particular healthcare coverage includes separate payment for these administrative services, then we will make an adjustment to the fee if needed.

We intend to increase our communication with our patients through the use of email and other digital communications.  The emails that you send and our responses, and vice versa, will likely become part of your medical record.  We intend to fully comply with all applicable state and federal patient privacy and confidentiality laws (e.g., HIPAA), but cannot guarantee our email communications will remain secure, as we will not be taking extraordinary measures.

If you have any questions on this policy, please let us know.