Charging an arm and a leg...or an eye.

I had an eye exam this morning, with a doctor I’d never seen before. I have worn contacts since I was 15, as well as glasses. I went in this morning for a routine exam to see if my vision had worsened, and if I would therefore need to alter my prescription of the contacts that I buy online.
After the exam, the bill comes to $55. I say, I have insurance, and my exams are covered - why is it so much? It’s explained to me that, because I’m a new patient and I wanted an exam for contact lenses, the total charge is $160, but that insurance covers $100, so I’m paying a $10 co-pay and the remaining $45 for the exam. I said that is a lot of money for a simple eye exam, and they said because I wanted contact lenses there is a ‘special’ exam they do, where they take additional measurements and curvatures and whatnot.

Does this sound right? I can see charging more for an exam that requires more measuring, but over $150??

Mods - I put this in IMHO because I don’t see a factual answer here. Feel free to move if that’s where it belongs.

My wife and I just did this also. I wanted to check on contacts, she did not. Her exam was about $35 and mine was $111, with insurance. Don’t know why and don’t agree with the extra cost for an additional 5 seconds of exam, if that.

Sounds right. My Vision Program on my medical insurance alerts you to this in the informative brochure they send you. Eye exams for glasses are completely covered and there is an additional charge for being measured for contacts, even if you decide not to get contacts.

But, double check your insurance. Many plans DO cover the “contact lens evaluation”. The doctor won’t get his regular “self pay” fee from the insurance company, but if it’s covered under your plan, the dr. is NOT supposed to charge you any extra fees to make up for it. For instance, Clarity Vision Optichoice pays for exam and contact lens eval. They pay something like $32 for the exam, and $28 for a contact lens eval and $32 for a comprehensive eval. (These prices are probably not accurate, as it’s been a few years since I did the billing paperwork for exams.) So, the dr may get as much as $64 for your eye exam and eval, but might “charge” as much as $100 for the exam and up to $100 for the fitting fee. It is part of the dr’s contract with the insurance companies that the dr is to accept that as payment in full.

And yes, over $150 is not uncommon for an eye exam including contact lens eval. Especially if you’re a new patient or wearing anything other than a regular old spherical contact. RGPs, Torics or bifocal fittings are more involved and every dr. I know will charge more for that. Some offices (like where I work) will scale back your bills every year. I have seen patients get charged for refraction only, even though they’ve had a comprehensive exam.

When I first got contacts the appointment was around $250, plus $20 extra for a trial pair of contacts (which did not actually fit me nor were they my prescription), and they wanted me to sit there and try to put them in in the office, and charge us another fifty bucks. That doctor does overcharge, though, but my parents made me go there (I was 17 at the time, and he’s the guy my father sees). Then he tried to force us to order the first few boxes of lenses through him, which would have cost us $500. 1-800-Contacts cost about half that.

I find that, fairly often, doctors (and friggin’ contact lens companies, grumble) are out to make extremely large sums of money and take advantage of you.

Thanks all! I guess it’s just one of things that turn out more expensive than you think.

Wow! Talk about soaking the patient! First of all, those trial lenses? Your doctor got them for free, and there was even a little print on them saying so. And learning how to put them in and care for them is NOT something you should be charged for. I often spend an hour with a patient who is just learning, and they don’t pay any more than those who’ve had them before. And, when a patient is done with the doctor, we always ask if they want to order the lenses with us. They are also given a written copy of the prescription to order as they choose.

I can’t get over the crap some doctors get away with. Sickens me.

If you have any insurance coverage at all, you’re not in a position to complain. I have no health insurance (and there’s no way for me to get any), and have over $400/month in health-related expenses. I am in a position to complain.

I was under the impression that the right to complain belongs to everyone, regardless of circumstances. In any case, feel free to ignore my posts.

Just throwing my recent experience into the pot: I just had whole-nine-yards eye exam as a new patient recently, and the first exam, even with insurance, cost me about $110. (They used some really cool machine, which was optional and cost extra but my eyes were so messed up I sprung for it, that took freaky pictures of the inside of my eye, which he then showed to me on a computer screen. Very cool. I have a freckle in my eye.) Anyway, I had to go back in for a visit two weeks after the initial visit, and that only cost me $10. When I go back in in another week, it will only be $10, unless he hauls out some new voodoo machine. But that first visit was a doozy. I was a little confused, too, but after asking around, found out it is pretty common.