I’ve heard about Dr. Fields’ practice, but I’m not sure I understand how it works. Can you explain it?
Dr. Fields opened a new office in December 2003, after being in private practice in Olney since 1987. The new practice emphasizes courteous and professional service, longer and unhurried visits, same or next day sick visits, and a pleasant, comforting “old-fashioned” environment. We have made every effort to remove the frustrations and aggravations generally involved in going to the doctor.
Rather than using insurance, the only charge is an annual professional fee which covers essentially all of Dr. Fields services. There are no other bills. This level of service is virtually unheard of these days, at any price. You may call our office at 301-774-7115 to answer any questions you may have, or to request that literature be mailed to your home.
I already have good insurance. Why would I pay extra to join this practice?
Even people with excellent medical coverage often find they do not have convenient access to the medical care they need. For example, when they call their doctor’s office, they may be placed on hold for minutes, or have to press numbers on a voice mail line to get through to a live person. When they’re finally offered an appointment, it may not be soon enough, or at a time that fits their schedule. They may wait an hour or more in a crowded waiting room to be seen, and then feel rushed through their visit before all their questions are answered. Simple questions aren’t answered over the phone, and they can’t send an e-mail to their doctor when they have a concern.
What does the professional fee cover?
It includes all office visits with Dr. Fields, a comprehensive annual physical exam, and a thorough panel of blood tests. Also covered are routine immunizations, office tests like EKGs and pulmonary function studies when indicated, rapid tests for strep throat, and administration of allergy shots. In addition, our nurse draws blood, so it’s no longer necessary to wait in line at the hospital or lab when you need tests.
What if I need to be hospitalized?
Dr. Fields maintains admitting privileges at MedStar Montgomery Medical Center (formerly Montgomery General Hospital) in Olney. He sees his patients there regularly, whether admitted by him or another physician. Dr. Fields is often able to facilitate communication between different specialists, patients, and their families. Dr. Fields does not charge patients or their insurance companies for his time spent at the hospital; that is included in the annual professional fee.
I’m covered by Medicare. Can I still see Dr. Fields?
Dr. Fields has opted out of Medicare. Medicare will not cover any portion of the professional fee, or any other related expenses. Medicare patients may however sign a waiver acknowledging that they agree to a private relationship with Dr. Fields and are then welcome to join the practice. Of course, your Medicare coverage with all other doctors, hospitals, and facilities remains intact.
Is this an insurance plan? No. This is simply a plan to see a doctor without the restrictions and frustrations associated with insurance companies, billing headaches, and paperwork.
I have medical insurance. Does it matter what kind? No. Dr. Fields’ program is not dependent on insurance. Your insurance is used only for other doctors, hospitals, tests, etc. In fact, it is not necessary to have insurance at all to be in the practice, though it is very strongly recommended.
I’m covered by an HMO. Can I still see Dr. Fields?
Dr. Fields is not a member of any HMOs. However, you are welcome to join Dr. Fields’ practice, as long as you know that the practice’s professional fee is not covered by your insurance company, and that you may still need referrals and approvals through a doctor designated as your HMO “primary care physician” (PCP). In some cases, we may be able to assist you in requesting these referrals from your PCP’s office, but the decision to give the referral is made by the other office and the HMO insurance company.
I’m in a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO). Can I join Dr. Fields’ practice?
Yes. While you are responsible for the annual professional fee, you may be able to submit bills to your insurance company for reimbursement. As you have already paid Dr. Fields, and as we are not affiliated with any insurance companies, that reimbursement is appropriately yours to keep. For insurance purposes, Dr. Fields is considered an “out of network” physician. Reimbursement levels are determined by your particular policy and may be subject to an annual deductible.
I have a Flex Spending plan or Medical Savings Account through work. Can I use that for the annual professional fee?
In many cases, yes. Check with your plan administrator. Our office manager is well acquainted with this question. By using pre-tax dollars designated for medical expenditures, many of our patients find these plans may reduce their out-of-pocket costs by as much as 30 to 40%.
I have high-school or college age children. Can Dr. Fields see them?
Yes. Dr. Fields gladly sees children 14 and older. From age 14, through age 25, the annual professional fee is reduced by half, if at least one parent is also a member of the practice.
Which forms of payment do you accept?
Checks, VISA, MasterCard, and Discover.
Do I need to pay the fee all at once?
No. You may choose one of three options: once a year, twice a year, or quarterly. The fee changes slightly depending which option you choose.
Will Dr. Fields charge me anything beyond the annual professional fee?
No. However, there are some services which are not covered, such as the cost of more exotic immunizations for travelers to foreign countries, but even there the vaccine would be purchased by the patient when available, and administered in our office at no charge.
This is an interesting concept. Are other doctors doing this?
Yes. A growing number of doctors around the country are changing to smaller, more service-oriented practices as the intrusions and frustrations of modern medicine become more difficult for patients and physicians alike. All of the practices charge additional fees for improved service, easier access, and longer unhurried appointments. This was the first practice on the East Coast that does not additionally charge insurance or Medicare for each visit.
Can I reach Dr. Fields whenever I need him? Yes. Dr. Fields can be reached 24 hours a day through his office or answering service. He answers non-urgent questions via e-mail as time permits. If Dr. Fields is out of town, Dr. Philip Henjum covers his practice for emergencies, and remains in touch with Dr. Fields. There is no additional fee for Dr. Henjum's services when Dr. Fields is not available.
What are Dr. Fields’ credentials?
Dr. Fields is a graduate of the University of Michigan, and the Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans. He completed his internship and residency training at the Washington Hospital Center, in Washington, D.C. He is board-certified in the specialty of Internal Medicine by the American Board of Internal Medicine. He has earned the rank of Fellow in the American College of Physicians, the association of U.S. internists.
He is on the staff at MedStar Montgomery Medical Center (formerly Montgomery General Hospital) in Olney, where he has served in numerous leadership positions on the medical staff, including two terms on the hospital's Board of Directors. He is currently the Chairman of the Ethics Committee, and in the past has served several terms as Chairman of the Credentials Committee and Chairman of Pharmacy & Therapeutics.
Dr. Fields has been listed in Best Doctors in America, Washingtonian magazine’s Top Doctors, Washington CHECKBOOK’s Top Doctors, and Castle Connolly's Top Doctors.
Does Dr. Fields really make house calls?
Yes! Dr. Fields often makes house calls in the Olney area when it is not practical or possible to be seen in the office, and when hospital evaluation and tests are not necessary. It is very gratifying to see someone in their home environment, and can be a relief to the families of elderly or physically challenged individuals. When Dr. Fields believes a house call is appropriate, it is included in the annual fee, and thus there is no additional charge for house calls.