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Patients Billed Unknowingly For Smoking Information - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Patients Billed Unknowingly For Smoking Information

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A Jamestown man says he was unknowingly charged for services during a doctor's appointment. He noticed an extra fee was on his bill for information on 'how to quit smoking.' but he didn't ask for the help, and wants other smokers to pay close attention to their doctor bills.

Donald Schrade went to get his ears cleaned out at the doctors. It was with a new doctor so he went through the list of typical health questions about his allergies, how often he drinks and if he smokes.

"I said yes I do, and she said well you know that's bad for you and you should quit, and I said yea I've known that forever, it's the dumbest thing I ever started." Don laughs, "So then she handed me the Quit ND card and went back to getting my ears cleaned, what I was there for in the first place."

But then a bill summarizing his visit came in the mail. He noticed a charge of $44 for the quit smoking information. Don says he was at first frustrated so he called the clinic asking why he was charged.

"Nothing to do with the visit I was there for, and wasn't something we went ahead and did or anything, I just thought it was the typical doctor patient interview type thing." Don says. "When I called my insurance provider they used the technical term fishy."

$44 for a conversation he says lasted only 30 seconds.

Essentia Billing Information say it's a Tobacco Cessation Charge for giving quitting information, something Don never asked for. Essentia Health told him they'd take the charge off, but just this time.

"Then she said she couldn't make any promises that it wouldn't show up the next time you go to the doctor, I said well what would you have to do to avoid this, I said would you have to clarify that you don't want to talk about smoking? And she said that'd probably be a good idea." Don shakes his head surprised by the answer he'd received.

A charge he has fixed this time but wants other smokers to be aware of.

"People probably don't look that close, and get some people to look closer at their bill and go ahead and question it if you don't what something is on there or why or think it should be." Don says.

Essentia Health says the Tobacco Cessation Charge is part of the new health care reform, a nationwide push to get patients healthier.

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