Press release from the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health:
Health department to charge for medical services starting February 1
(January 24, 2011) – The Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health will begin charging patients for medical services in its clinics beginning Feb. 1.
The fee will depend on the type of service being provided and at no time will the fee exceed the cost to the health department of providing the service, and in most cases will be much lower.
For example, the cost of a routine examination in the Sexually Transmitted Disease Clinic will be $10. The cost to administer an immunization will be $8. A blood test for lead poisoning will also be $8. Payment is by cash only, but credit or debit cards may be accepted in near future.
Last year, the health department sought and received the support of its Executive Board and the Allen County Board of Commissioners to begin charging fees for its clinical services.
Dwindling tax revenue and loss of grant money helped spur on the decision. The drop in funding comes at a time when the health department is serving more clients and providing more services than ever.
“Over the last several years, the types of clinical services we provide and the number of families needing our services has grown while our budget and staffing has remained flat or been reduced,” says Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Deborah McMahan. “Many of these services are not services we are required to provide but are important communicable disease-related services we feel are important to provide to our community.”
The fee schedule will be in effect for the STD, Infectious Disease and Children’s Immunization clinics. All clinics are located in the Medical Annex Building at 4813 New Haven Ave. An appointment is required.
McMahan says the fees were kept small so as not to serve as a major barrier to clients, but to provide enough funding so that the services can still be provided at all.
People who are identified as contacts to an STD or infectious disease patient will not be charged for needed medical testing or treatment, nor will refugees who must get medically screened as part of their resettlement in Fort Wayne.
The health department cannot bill private insurance at this time but will bill Medicaid for services given to a patient who is Medicaid eligible.
The health department will not have a sliding fee scale at this time, but there will be a limit to how much an individual ($40) or a family ($100) will be charged for immunizations for children. In cases of extreme financial hardship, fees may be waived.
McMahan encourages people to talk to the department’s staff about alternatives before deciding not to go to the clinic for testing or treatment for themselves or their children.
“This has been a long journey to get to this point and has required a great deal of patience and flexibility from our staff and will require the same from our clients,” McMahan says. “However, taking this step will allow us to continue to provide high-quality, low-cost public health care and vaccinations to our community to reduce the spread of disease and to make our community healthier and safer.”
A brochure explaining the fee schedule has been posted here.
About the new charging policy
The health department will begin charging for services provided at its medical clinics on Feb. 1, 2011. The fee will depend on the type of service provided. The fees will only apply to medical services provided in the health department’s clinics at the request of its clients. Other services that are provided by an outside clinic or laboratory will be charged to the client at the true cost to the health department or will be paid directly by the client to the provider. All fees will be paid at the time of the appointment, including fees for services ordered on behalf of the patient. The health department will bill Medicaid for any services given to Medicaid-eligible patients and will not charge those patients directly.