Learnedtoolate

Is it ethical for surgeons to charge a $5000 cancellation fee?

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I had an new patient exam in a surgery clinic  to see if I liked them.    They seemed nice, all except the legal documents they gave to me.  They threatened a cancellation fee adding up to 50% of the cost of sugery (a little over five-thousand dolloars) for cancelling less than two weeks prior to the surgery date.    I asked them what if I had to cancel due to accident or illness and they answered that I would need to at least reimburse them for the cost of anesthesia which they said would cost between $1700 to $2500.  

I feel really sorry for people who don't have the money for this and run into problems beyond their control.    

The last time I cancelled surgery in another office, they did not charge me and even gave back the $500 retaining fee although I had to wait for over a year.   

In comparison, this threat of a cancellation fee between $1700 to $5000 seems devious.    Is this ethical and is it even legal?   

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8 minutes ago, Learnedtoolate said:

Is this ethical and is it even legal?

It is both as long as they disclose it up front.  There used to be a time when they didn't have to do this but now with insurance the way it is and how far in advance hospitals and surgery centers require they book cases if a patient backs out for a frivolous reason 2 weeks or less prior to the procedure it can be virtually impossible to fill the time.  Empty ORs and unscheduled time make no one money.

Your surgeon is not just doing your procedure that day.  Typically they have "block" surgery days at the hospital where the room they prefer, the crew they work with and the special supplies they need are exclusively available for their use all day.  Their schedule books their cases back to back so that they do as many as they can in that 8-10 hour day.  Usually 2 or 3 OR suites so they can finish one and head to the next room and start another with little to no down time.  If your procedure is booked for 3 hours and you cancel because the wife's hamster has the flu and you need to do it another time they may not be able to find another patient with insurance approval whose procedure needs the same amount of time on that short of notice.  

13 minutes ago, Learnedtoolate said:

 I asked them what if I had to cancel due to accident or illness and they answered that I would need to at least reimburse them for the cost of anesthesia which they said would cost between $1700 to $2500.

This sounds like they are doing the procedure in a surgery center and they must pay the anesthesiologist for the day whether they do your case or not.  This goes back to my explanation above but I would ensure that if you are paying this fee they are not filling that slot and double dipping.  

See if they will re-write the cancellation policy for you to state that if they cannot fill the slot by 48 hours prior to the scheduled ate THEN the fee becomes payable.  

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