A few weeks ago, I saw an optometrist in Covington, Louisiana, who charged $831 for an eye exam. He’s not a medical doctor, which is referred to as an ophthalmologist. It was my first visit to this eye care provider since I have lived out of country for nearly 10 years. After fifty minutes or so, I left with a new prescription for eyeglasses, as I am now slightly more near-sighted than my current glasses were correcting. He also confirmed that my eye pressure was stable as I have had glaucoma for a number of years.
Imagine my surprise when I got a bill for $831.00 My insurance covered about half of this bill. I have $413.32 to pay out-of-pocket. Thus far, I have spoken with the clinic’s office, the insurance billing office, and the clinic billing office. All three have confirmed that the charges are correct.
I never saw a medical doctor, nor did I receive emergency or corrective services. I was not asked if I desired anything beyond a routine eye exam. In fact, I didn’t receive a complete exam, as I asked to skip the field test, as I didn’t want my eyes dilated that day as I had to drive over an hour shortly after. I can’t imagine if I had asked for a full exam.
While I lived in Honduras, I had very good medical care with doctors, clinics, and even an emergency hospital visit in first-class facilities. None of my charges there for any of these procedures came close to the amount I accrued in less than one hour with an optometrist* in the US.
As I write this post, I am waiting on the phone for a fourth consultation about the bill. I am not optimistic as thus far I have been advised to pay in full, preferably with a credit card. If not, these charges will be referred to a collection agency.
My advice? Run, don’t walk, to another country where medical care costs have not gone completely beserk.
*The first version stated he had an associate degree. After re-reading his bio, I can infer that he has a master’s degree equivalency. His duties include low-vision help, routine exams and fitting contact lens.