Nebraska Medicine will start billing patients in some cases for messaging providers

Posted at 6:16 PM, Sep 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-01 19:17:29-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Starting Sept. 12, patients may be charged for some inquiries on Nebraska Medicine's messaging system.

Jan, who is affected by this decision, suffers from a chronic illness and sees practitioners frequently at Nebraska Medicine. She uses the messaging system a lot because she can't always get in to see her doctor. When she got the email, informing her of the change, she said she was kind of disappointed.

"I know doctors are busy, but I don't know."

While most messaging will remain free at Nebraska Medicine, patients like Jan may be billed for responses that need medical expertise and require more than five minutes of a provider's time.

On Nebraska Medicine's website, it states: "Making this change allows us to continue to provide you with cost-effective extraordinary care that may otherwise have to be done through a more expensive in-person or telehealth appointment."

Taylor Wilson, with Nebraska Medicine, says that the change will only affect a small number of people; about 1% will be charged for messages.

The average cost will be $24, but it all depends on the patient's insurance plans.

"Even if it's $24, you know, in this day and age, that can be a hardship for anybody, a family or anybody — a single person, an elderly person — it's hard to find that extra $24," Jan said.

She's concerned she might owe out-of-pocket costs if she tries to get medical advice by messaging.

"It's hard on Medicare, plus it increases your premium ... and when you have a chronic illness you can't drop your supplement, I have to have that," she said.

Jan thinks there are still a lot of questions to be answered with this change, one that many people of all ages may also have, who are watching their budgets.

More information on the changes can be found on Nebraska Medicine's website here.

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