Back in December, VH and I decided to get our eyes examined. I was 3 years overdue for a new glasses and contact prescription, and he’d reached the point where he couldn’t read the newspaper without growing longer arms. It was time, and the timing was good, too: we knew insurance might not cover all of the expense, so we wanted to get our exams done in time to deduct them on our taxes.
Fortunately — or so we thought — there was an eye doctor just down the road that not only offered exams but also sold glasses and contacts. We’d seen their building go up a year or so ago, and since then we’d driven past the sign announcing Drs. Norris & Kelly’s services almost daily.
VH went first, and being the cheap man that he is he declined all of the “optional” exam bling like baseline documentation. When it turned out that he only needed reading glasses, in a strength available at Wal-Mart, he figured he’d get them there.
I’m not so lucky: I have horrible eyesight. I had all the bling tests done and had both a contact and eyeglass exam. (Which, incidentally, I had no idea were separate things and still am not sure about.) I picked out a pair of glasses, ordered 6 months of contacts and paid for all but my eye exam.
Since I’d read our Tricare Standard insurance documents that very morning which listed among their family member benefits: “Physical examinations, including eye examinations, and immunizations.” So, I asked Dr. Norris and Dr. Kelly’s office to bill the insurance (which they said wouldn’t pay) and told them I’d pay for the exams myself if insurance didn’t cover it.
A couple of weeks ago, I got two bills from the eye doctors, Drs. Norris and Kelly, in the mail. Both are for $170, one for VH’s exam and one for mine. (Apparently my contact lens exam and base documentation — whatever that is — were included in the $462 I already paid them).
One-hundred and seventy dollars for an eye exam seems outrageously expensive to me, so I called their office thinking that perhaps they’d accidentally billed us twice.
Amanda, the woman answering the phone, said their eye exams are $86. When I asked why I’m being billed $170 for them she claimed that the $86 is for people who pay same-day, but if they have to bill insurance it’s more.
They charge my insurance company more than they charge me? Why, that sounds like fraud to me, I replied.
She justified the difference on the basis of all of the paperwork they have to fill out. (Apparently pushing “submit” on the computer is awfully hard work. Maybe I ought to set up a business in that line of work, eh??)
So, why wasn’t I told there’d be a different fee?
Umm… well… That’s right, she didn’t have a good answer.
But I do: I intend to get in touch with Tricare to find out why their fee wasn’t covered, then I intend to tell Tricare that they’re being billed almost twice what patients are being charged face-to-face for the same service.
And then, as I explained to snippy Amanda, I will never go back to eye doctors Drs. Norris and Kelley on 2301 10th Avenue in Leavenworth, Kansas (at http://drsnorrisandkelly.com/) for eye exams, glasses or contact lenses ever again.
But first I’m going to save someone else a ridiculously high charge for eye exams by hitting a “submit” button to post this.