Chronic illness ‘tax’

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UPMC has put me in a position where I am forced to seek care for chronic health conditions from other hospital systems. I’m not talking about the UPMC-Highmark spat affecting the whole region. I’m talking about “facility fees.” In my case, it was a $97 charge in addition to my doctor’s copay — something I would term “double-dipping.” I was seeing a rheumatologist for a regular follow-up for arthritis and I was assessed this “hospital-based fee” merely because his clinic was in the Falk medical building, attached to the hospital.

UPMC seems to think patients’ insurance will cover these fees, but with the prevalence of high-deductible insurance plans, it often comes out of patients’ pockets — for every single visit until the deductible is reached. The people who will be hit the hardest will be those with chronic conditions, who will either have to decide if they will accept this unfair “tax for chronic illness” or will be forced to leave their doctors to see doctors in another health system (something UPMC’s advertising has ironically recognized as a hardship).

HEATHER JACOBY
Castle Shannon


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