When That Supposedly Free Annual Physical Generates a Bill

by | Oct 30, 2023 | Health

Christine Rogers of Wake Forest, North Carolina, didn’t hesitate when she was asked to fill out a routine mental health questionnaire during a checkup last November.

Her answers on the form led her primary care doctor to ask about depression and her mood, and Rogers said she answered honestly.

“It was a horrible year. I lost my mom,” Rogers said she told her physician.

After what Rogers estimates was a five-minute conversation about depression, the visit wrapped up. She said her doctor did not recommend treatment nor refer her for counseling.

“It’s not like anything I told her triggered, ‘Oh my goodness, I’m going to prescribe you medication,’” she said.

Then the bill came.

The Patient: Christine Rogers, 60, a public relations/communications worker who is insured by Cigna Healthcare through her job.

Medical Services: An annual wellness visit, which included typical blood tests, as well as a depression screening and discussion with a physician.

Service Provider: WakeMed Physician Practices, part of WakeMed Health & Hospitals, a Raleigh-based, tax-exempt system with three acute care hospitals, outpatient centers, and hundreds of physicians across a range of specialties.

Total Bill: $487, which included a $331 wellness visit and a separate $156 charge for what was billed as a 20- to 29-minute consultation with her physician. Her insurer paid $419.93, leaving Rogers with a $67.07 charge related to the consultation.

What Gives: Rogers said the bill came as a surprise because sh …

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