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A membership fee to see your doctor? Would you pay it?

Posted at 2:57 PM, Feb 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-27 18:54:10-05

Have you heard of a yearly doctor membership fee? If not, you may hear about it soon as more doctors are demanding it.

John recent got a letter from his doctor Peter Reed.

It talked of a new $50 yearly fee that would mean "better service" for patients.

John and others would get, among other things, 24 hour access to a physician, and be able to use a patient portal system for more effective communication.

But John says "it seems like a lot of overhead expenses he was trying to cover."

John says by paying for his insurance and his co-pays he already meets his obligations.

Membership fees are not new.

At One Medical's four Valley locations, a fee of $149 a year is required.

But Doctor Natasha Bhuyan says you get a lot for the money.

She points to an smartphone app where patients can set up appointments, get prescriptions and access a 24/7 virtual physician service.

You meet face to face by phone to explain issues and even showing conditions.

"They'll take picture of things like pink eye, toe nail fungus, skin rashes. Often times we can prescribe creams and eye drops," Bhuyan says.

She says many times urinary tract infections and colds can also be diagnosed virtually.

In many cases, it means the patient does not have to pay for an ER or office visit because sometimes those can be avoided.

But if only lab work is needed, Bhuyan says you still won’t pay an office fee. She explains that those office fees could be as much as $140 if you have a high deductible insurance plan.

Back to John, even though his doctor is charging a fee that he doesn't like — he'll most likely have to pay.

"I probably won't switch physicians even if push comes to shove because I like the doctor," he says.

John's doctor Peter Reed says in a statement to us:

"You're paying for better service. Portal access for direct communications with doctors, same day appointments, electronic access to accounts, 24 hour a day ability to speak to your doctor, etc.

The hope is that this will lessen urgent care and ER visits. We also try and spend more time with patients and are very mindful of people's time (we try not to run beyond a few minutes late."

So, you make the call: Is the fee worth the extras or should you get those anyway and you pay enough already?

Go to the Let Joe Know Facebook page and tell me what you think.

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