HOUSTON — The next time you send an email to your doctor it could cost you a fee.
Doctors charging for emails
According to the New York Times, more hospitals and medical practices are charging for your doctor to respond to an email, including Houston Methodist. Not all emails will cost you. Things like prescription refills, appointment scheduling, and follow-up questions are all OK.
However, some providers are now charging for things like changes to your medication, new symptoms or issues, and big changes to long-term conditions.
Doctors seeing more digital requests
The Times said the move is not just a money grab but an effort to help doctors dealing with more digital requests these days.
According to experts, it appears the pandemic has accelerated this demand with research showing patient emails have increased by more than 50% in the last three years.
This has left doctors swamped often responding to emails well after work hours.
However, critics said this move could discourage people from asking for medical advice when they really need it.
The fees can range from a co-pay as low as $3 to a charge of up to $100 for the uninsured. Some experts warn increasing communication between patients and doctors is a good thing and charging for the service could reduce that communication.