by Melinda Gallo

Doctors giving discounts

I had an appointment with a new doctor yesterday. As with most doctor's offices, there is no reception desk or even nurses. You buzz the door outside, they let you in, and you look for the office in the building, which is usually an apartment building. Once you find the door, you go inside and sit yourself down to wait.

From where I was sitting (and I did try to sit as far away from the doctor's office as possible), I could hear everything the patient and the doctor were discussing. I tried very hard not to listen and was even reading my book out loud to myself, but certain words peaked my interest.

I got called inside and he performed the two tests I came to see him for. He handed me the samples in an envelope with a piece of paper telling me to go to the Ospedale di Santa Maria Annunziata, which is located outside of Florence in Bagno a Ripoli, to drop them off.

During the exams, I told him that I got referred to him through my friend who is his sister-in-law's friend. So, when it came time to pay for the visit, he told me that he'll give me a discount and just charge me for the visit. He told me to consider that the tests were free. I don't know how much of a discount he actually gave me, but I do know that the price I paid was just for a normal visit, about 80 Euros.

Today, I went to the sixth floor of the hospital and looked for the doctor who was supposed to to be testing my samples. When I finally found the door with his name typed on a piece of paper stuck on it, I walked in. He was sitting in front of a computer screen looking at samples of some kind. I tell him that my doctor sent me over to give them the samples and hand him the note from the doctor.

He told me that normally for each test, I'd need a ticket (which is part of the Italian health system) that costs 70 Euros each. But because I came directly, he'll just charge me for one test if I give him 52 Euros, which I saw the price in some binder he showed me, in cash and not go through the system. I gave him the money and my address so he could send me the results along with the receipt for the payment I just gave him.

I rarely go to the doctor's and so I don't know how normal it is for private doctors to give discounts, but the benefits are that it's cheaper for me and I get my results much quicker. The one disadvantage is that I have to do all the footwork myself.

Share your comments for this blog post on the Living in Florence's Facebook page. Grazie!