UnityPoint Health to Charge Patients for Messaging Providers

UnityPoint Health, one of Iowa's largest healthcare systems, has announced that it will begin charging patients to send messages to their doctors and nurses starting Tuesday, February 14th.[0] A spokesperson for the healthcare system said that the fees are due to the financial strain that answering messages creates.

MyChart, a secure electronic communication tool offered by UnityPoint Health, gives patients the ability to contact their provider, schedule appointments, and view test results.[1] Patients without insurance coverage or a high deductible will face costs ranging from $36 to $70 for each message depending on what the message is about and what costs insurance covers.[0]

This fee is part of a larger trend of healthcare providers billing patients for messages sent through secure messaging portals. The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services first introduced the billing codes that would let providers get reimbursed for written messages sent through secure patient portals back in 2019.[2]

Patients will not be charged for making an appointment or refilling a prescription, only for messages that require a provider's clinical time and medical expertise.[3] Insurance should pay for a portion of the messaging charge, but those without insurance will be stuck with the full bill.[0]

0. “UnityPoint Health to begin charging for some messages on their MyChart service” kwwl.com, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.kwwl.com/news/unitypoint-health-to-begin-charging-for-some-messages-on-their-mychart-service/article_f0461962-aca2-11ed-9d30-63577e667c6e.html

1. “UnityPoint ‘MyChart' app to start charging for messages to doctors” KCCI Des Moines, 15 Feb. 2023, https://www.kcci.com/article/unitypoint-mychart-app-to-start-charging-messages-to-doctors/42870107

2. “Emailing Your Doctor Could Cost You – Consumer Health News” HealthDay News, 10 Feb. 2023, https://consumer.healthday.com/emailing-your-doctor-could-soon-cost-you-2659377726.html

3. “UnityPoint ‘MyChart’ app now charging for messages to doctors” KCRG, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.kcrg.com/2023/02/14/unitypoint-mychart-app-now-charging-messages-doctors