Compassionate Doctor Charges $5 a Visit -- Here Are Other Ways to Save on Health Care (VIDEO)

Inspiring 20

dr. russell dohnerWhile many of us can say we've had the same family doctor for many years, it's unlikely that we pay just $5 per visit. Unless we have really good medical insurance with a really low co-pay. But some patients in Rushville, Illinois can happily say that they don't even need insurance to see their doc. Eighty-seven-year-old Dr. Russell Dohner, who has been practicing since 1955, has been making headlines for being one of the last docs to charge pennies for care. He doesn't even take insurance, because he says it's not worth the bother. His philosophy: "I always just wanted to be a doctor to help people with their medical problems." In other words, not to make the big bucks.

But Dohner admits the reality is that he hardly makes enough to pay his nurses. He makes his living mostly from a farm his family owns. So clearly, he's an anomaly. But it does make you think ... shouldn't more doctors feel like Dohner and offer their patients more affordable health care?

Well, some will -- if a patient is willing to ask. You may not be able to get away with a $5 doctor's visit like the people of Rushville, but you could save money by employing a few tricks ...

  1. Make your doctor your ally. If you can get your primary care physician on your side, they could help recommend doctors who will work with you on a large out-of-pocket expense or even be your advocate with a facility's finance department. For instance, when I had back surgery, my physiatrist personally hooked me up with a generous surgeon who he made aware of my financial situation at the time.
  2. Make employees in the billing department your friends. Building good rapport by being assertive and friendly with the billing department could do wonders for your bank account, because they could give you the info you need to save money or help you work out a payment plan.
  3. Negotiate. If you haven't met your deductible yet or have costly co-insurance, see if your doctor will cut his rate if you pay in cash. And if you have to see someone out-of-network, it's possible your insurer may still cover the cost at the higher in-network rate as long as you can prove that your plan doesn't have a specialist with the expertise you need, or has an inadequate number of specialists in your area. If not, offer 35 percent less than the charge (about what he'd recoup from your insurer).
  4. If worst comes to worst, fight. Lots of people feel like they have to just roll over and accept whatever an insurance company tells them they'll cover -- or won't. But if you feel like they won't pay for a service you believe you deserve, don't give up. You can appeal their decision, and ultimately even contact your state insurance commission, which will mediate a dispute and possibly save you lots of dinero.

What are some tips you employ to save money on doctor's visits and other health care costs?

Image via AP/YouTube



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lulou lulou

Even with low copays and insurance, take a closer look at a bill sometime.  We just payed $400 for a 5 minute "surgical procedure" to have ear wax removed from my 1 year old to get a better look for an ear infection she didnt have.  

Where we live now doesnt have the handy hospital ran clinics in Target, CVS, etc, but I wish it did, if was far more ecomomical and practical to go see an experienced nurse practioner for a 2 minute strep test than deal with the hassle and inflated care from the doctors office.

jalaz77 jalaz77

No it's not about Mitts' loss, what I am saying is you seem to go straight to those articles in anger. Getting mad because they bring up his loss but here you are taking something that isn't political and making it political. You made a comment on a recent article about Mitt stating Obama won because of donations and you said to let it go but here you are taking a jab at Obama-so let it go. We ALL know you are a Mitt fan, fine but he didn't win and if he did I wouldn't make jabs at Mitt the way you are with Obama.

You know I am excited to see what this new health care will bring because the way it is now isn't working which is WHY everyone's health ins is going up. How else do you think unpaid bills get paid??? Through us. It should be mandatory to have health ins like car ins. Uninsured usually don't care they are uninsured because they will get care anyway, as they should but to not pay is BS. There are ways of paying.

bills... billsfan1104

Bwhahhha you wouldnt make jabs at Mitt Romney. Bullshit.

jhslove jhslove

The biggest thing I've learned is to be an informed consumer and advocate for myself. Before scheduling any medical procedure, I make sure I know exactly what I'm going to be charged (and shop around, since different facilities charge vastly different rates for the same procedure.) I double-check with my insurance company that the procedure will be covered, and if it's a big one I get it in writing from the insurance company so they can't go back and refuse to cover it after the fact. Before signing on with a new doctor, I check to make sure they don't charge a facility fee (learned that lesson the hard way with my daughter's last pediatrician.)

I make sure I know my insurance policy inside and out so that if something fishy comes up, I'll be alert to it. I recently had an outpatient procedure, and when the bill came it was FIVE TIMES what my explanation of benefits had said it would be. I called the hospital, it turned out to be a simple billing error, and they fixed it and sent me a corrected bill. A year ago, I probably would have just paid the thing without even bothering to check the EOB against the bill.

jhslove jhslove

Uuuuggghhh.....seriously, can we let ONE ARTICLE not be about politics?! This article has nothing to do with the election, nothing to do with Obamacare, and some of us are trying to have a conversation about the actual POINT of the article instead of turning it into something political. I care just as passionately about the election as the next person, but seriously, can we at least not completely highjack someone else's article to make it about our own issues?!

CPN322 CPN322

I'm sorry, I thought this was a positive article.....this man is a wonderful human being! Wish there were more like him!!!

nonmember avatar Kay

This man and his staff are SAINTS. With that said, the uninformed complainer kills me. If your premium went up this year, its not because of Obamacare. Instead, the insurance company is just getting in their last hurrah before the increases become limited to a 10% max increase DUE to Obamacare regulating their Wild, Wild West practices. This is their last chance to get rich off of you before regulations kick in that will stop them from abusing the American public. Also kills me that some repubs will complain that people that don't carry insurance causes high rates for everyone, but will also argue that Obamacare should not force everyone to have coverage or to pay a penalty. Well, which is it? Should the uninsured pay the penalty to the US for not having coverage or would YOU rather continue to pay the penalty for their choices to your insurance company?? Grow up! Think for yourselves! Stop listening to the talking heads!

jalaz77 jalaz77

Um no I wouldn't. Sorry I don't take this as serious as you...if you look at political posts here I make very very few comments even if its pro Obama support and I still don't. It's ok others move on in a different way.

bills... billsfan1104

I think its funny how after this election, we are not allowed to be critical Obama, without being told to move on, deal with it and on and on. Again, I haven't mentioned anything about my displeasure for this election. I have let it go, and now I am discussing what it happening and what will happen and its my right and everyone else who didnt vote for Obama, your Savior.

yayhe... yayheadstart

Do you not have anything better to do than sit around commenting on stir articles, billsfan?

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