Despite harsh publicity, doctors at a Cleveland-area OB/GYN practice say they stand behind a $30 annual fee to patients for "noncovered services" such as educational material, newsletters and extra billing information.
The fee, charged by Beachwood OB/GYN in Lyndhurst, Ohio, fell into the media spotlight in mid-February, when a former patient told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that Beachwood staff told her the fee would be used to pay for rising malpractice premiums.
However, Benito Alvarez, M.D., says that although the fee addresses his five-member practice's tightening finances, it has nothing to do with malpractice or any covered services and the practice has been collecting it for almost a year.
He adds that the fee is voluntary and 90% of patients have agreed to pay it, but those who don't have not been denied services.
Alvarez says lawyers advised Beachwood that the fee meets Ohio law, but he adds that it is not being charged to Medicare and Medicaid patients.
"It's been a media frenzy," he says of the recent press attention.