Obamacare and the “free” wellness visit.


Obamacare claims to be dedicated to “wellness” (i.e., preventive care is “free”). As a physician, despite its fiscally negative consequences for me personally, I applaud “wellness.” Obama care mandates a “free” wellness visit.

This yet another line item on the excruciatingly long list of “‘good’ progressive/statist /altruist ideas that simply don’t work as the central planners intended.” But have you ever heard a progressive/statist/altruist say, “Oops, sorry about that” and change course? I won’t wait for your answer.

However, a recent article in U.S. News & World Report discussed the confusion that often occurs when people see their doctor for their annual “free” wellness visit. The problem: it is easy to inadvertently cross the line into non-free medical services that cause the wellness visit to be coded as something rather costly.

Let’s consider a real-life example from the article. A patient goes to her doctor for her free physical under Obamacare. However, when the bill arrived it wasn’t for zero dollars. The visit cost more than $450.

How did that happen? It would be ludicrous (and extremely poor planning on the part of the authors of Obamacare – quelle surprise) to imagine that the patient’s doctor will not question him or her during the visit. The answers to those questions during a wellness visit can sometimes result in the physician using a different billing code other than the “free” code for preventive medical services. (We’re not talking “illegal” billing codes or “upgrading” the code in some nefarious manner. It is all reasonable and rational and legal.)

Diagnostic visits are not covered under preventive care. As, many Obamacare recipients have high-deductible plans, the answers to some of those questions can easily make that free wellness visit into a diagnostic visit that must be entirely paid for out-of-pocket.

Stop for a minute and think about the implications. A wellness visit that does little more than take your blood pressure is essentially worthless if your doctor is not allowed to ask pertinent questions and act on any relevant issue that arises during his/her questioning. The simple question, “How are you feeling?” may impact the billing for your visit. Answer, “Well, my foot has been hurting.” The physical examination also may have an impact – and an entirely appropriate impact. “How long have you had that mole? Has it changed color?”

Ouch! The best laid plans of mice and men.

Roy Filly

 

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About Roy Filly

Please read my first blog in which I describe myself and my goals.
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One Response to Obamacare and the “free” wellness visit.

  1. Dad says:

    In a visit yesterday with my congressman and referencing Obamacare, I commented that over the years I, and others, have made bad investments. As painful as it is, there comes a time you must admit it was a bad deal, cut your losses and bail out. It will cost us at least $billions to junk this worthless so called health plan but it will save the USA from further financial losses and deteriorating healthcare. We can then replace it with a private plan regulated and paid by state or federal sources (like Medicaid). Competition is king and will save money and improve outcomes.

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