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Aiken doctor uses direct pay system to simplify billing

Dr. Kate Mayes

Dr. Kate Mayes bills patients a flat fee up front rather than dealing with billing and insurance companies. She says her simplified process allows her to keep the cost of her services down. (June 6, 2011 / WRDW-TV)

News 12 This Morning at 6 o'clock / Monday, June 6, 2011

AIKEN, S.C. --- Paying the doctor is an expensive necessity and dealing with insurance companies can become a hassle for many. One doctor in Aiken is trying to cut out the confusion. Doctor Kate Mayes opened up her own practice almost two years ago, but she struggled financially barely meeting her overhead costs. "It wasn't going well as a solo doctor and I knew statistically I wasn't supposed to make it," said Dr. Mayes.

That's when she decided to make a few adjustments. She thought about the number of uninsured patients she had along with the ones fed up with dealing with the insurance companies.

Dr. Mayes explained, "I don't want to turn people away, I want it to be simple. I don't want people to be afraid of a new health care system and not being taken care of."

She cut loose the billing company and switched to electronic records to save $900 a month and she made patients pay her directly, up front. "Instead of a patient coming here and leaving without paying except maybe a ten, twenty dollar co-pay," she said.

Twenty minutes with Dr. Mayes costs $100. Any other services come with a flat fee too. "They get a claim form from us, which has everything on it that they need to send to their insurance."

Patient Ilonna Kelley says, "I'd say definitely check her out. Compared to what I've read or seen, her prices are a lot less." Kelley came in to get her regular checkup and says the process is easy for her.

"I created the fee schedule to be simple, to make sure people didn't pay more than they were going to get reimbursed, because I do save money on admin costs," said Dr. Mayes.

Her office saves on postage they would have spent billing patients, mailing in forms, and employing more people to handle all the paperwork.

Dr. Mayes' office takes all forms of insurance and medicare. She says doctors in other metropolitan areas are trying out the direct pay system.

According to Dr. Mayes, there are a few reasons why direct pay isn't that popular. She says putting in a direct pay system can be daunting task for offices. Also, some practices have agreements with certain insurance companies, so they are guaranteed some patients that hold that insurance.

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