I am one of those twenty-somethings who do not have health insurance. I know, I know I should have it but I have two part-time jobs and no employer plan. And I’m too old to go onto my parents’ plan. Anyway, I want to have a minor problem checked. I have a mole that may need to be removed. How much will a primary care doctor’s office visit cost me?
Uninsured, but mostly healthy
Dear Uninsured but mostly healthy,
You can call your doctor’s office and ask, but they may not be able to tell you. It will depend upon how much time your visit requires. There are different levels of service, and different billing codes for each. If your primary care doctor can remove the mole himself, then your visit will include the cost of the removal. If he or she feels you should see a skin doctor, then your visit will be shorter and you will have another doctor to visit (and pay for.)
All of this is not very helpful, as you try to prepare for your visit. Perhaps some real data would help: in the United States, uninsured people under age 65 who had a physician office visit in 2009 spent a median of $194. That means half of the people who saw a physician spent less than $194, and half spent more. On average, uninsured people under age 65 spent $630 on physician office visits. (Source: Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.)
A single visit to a primary care doctor will very likely be much less than $200, in any case. If you cannot pay the whole amount at the time of the visit, you can ask for a payment plan. If you can pay the whole amount at the time of the visit, you can ask for a discount. Paying at the visit means that the office does not have any paperwork or billing to do; lots of offices will give you a steep discount.
Let’s hope it is a minor problem and you will be back to shipshape in no time!