Emailing your doctor may incur charges
Kacie Lewis, 29, is among those managing their health issues electronically. Until recently, his Aetna insurance coverage had a high deductible, thanks to his work as a product manager at a healthcare company. And since late 2021, she said, she had been billed $32 for each of three threads, seeking treatments for psoriasis, eczema and a yeast infection from providers at Novant Health in Charlotte, in North Carolina.
“Time is money,” Ms Lewis said. “And being able to submit something super simple and communicate with your doctor via email is much better than driving 20 minutes one way, 20 minutes the other way and potentially sitting in the waiting room .”
In a Jan. 6 article in JAMA, Dr. Holmgren and colleagues reported that after UCSF Health began email billing in November 2021, there was a slight drop in the number of emails. – emails from patients sent to providers. The researchers suggested this could be due to patients’ reluctance to pay fees.
In the first year, UCSF billed for 13,000 message threads, or about 1.5% of 900,000 threads and more than three million messages, according to the study. (Other hospitals told the Times they bill no more than 2% for threads.) Of about $20 from Medicare and Medicaid and $75 from commercial insurers per bill, email charges generated $470,000. $, compared to $5.6 billion in system revenue in 2021.
“This will hopefully be revenue neutral,” Dr Holmgren said. “We have no intention of making it a profitable business.”
Critics argue that charging for a small fraction of emails isn’t likely to significantly reduce physician burnout unless hospitals also set aside working hours for patient requests and reward patients. clinicians for these efforts. UCSF began awarding “productivity points,” a metric used for compensation, for physician correspondence.
Jack Resneck Jr., president of the American Medical Association, said he supports email insurance coverage as a way to adapt healthcare models to rapidly changing times.