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Rip Off Blood Test Cost? What Can I Do?

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DonaldDuck92 | 20:26 Sat 22nd Jan 2022 | Law
17 Answers
Before Christmas I had to see a medical consultant privately.

During the appointment he said that he would like to take a blood test and would I be okay with that to which I agreed. The blood test was done and he emailed to tell me the results a week later.

Today I have received a £250 bill for that blood test (+ cost of the consultation).

I wasn't made aware of that fee and I have just looked and I cannot see prices on the clinic website.

I think it's unreasonable that I was not made aware of the cost at the time. I'm an usual client at this clinic in that I am of a different age than their usual demographic and this is a blood test that I could have got on the NHS.

I don't feel that I was presented with all of the facts when making this decision.

Where do I stand?

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how much was the blood test element?
Question Author
The blood test was £250. Another £250 for the actual appointment.
sorry, gotcha i misread
You could have asked. Surely it's obvious that when seeing a private doctor you have to pay for tests.
Is it normal for a private patient to be telt the costs of each element of a consultation without being asked?
Either the blood test found something wrong, or it didn't. Both outcomes are worthwhile.

Just pay for it and notch it up to experience.
"this is a blood test that I could have got on the NHS."

How long would you have had to wait to have the test and receive the results on the NHS?
A week through the health centre for non urgent ones up here.

10 minutes at the diabetes clinic.
It all depends upon what the blood tests were and how many were values were tested.

£250 seems a bit high, but you could phone your Consultants secretary for a breakdown and explanation.

If you take the clear advantages of private medicine then you have to pay.

It is not the function of the Consultant to advice you of costs unless you ask.
How much would it have cost the NHS to carry out the blood test, analyze it and notify the doctor?
In my (limited) experience, the Consultants tend to tell you their costs before you go to see them but any costs for scans/treatments etc are not obvious. Not helped by the fact that if the Consultant is working out of a private hospital, the hospital will add their costs. If it's any consolation, I`ve just had a bill for $150 for some antibiotics in the US. The NHS isn't all bad.
////^Before Christmas I had to see a medical consultant privately.////

No you didn't you chose to.
I’ve always had a fully itemised bill from private clinics/hospitals.
You do have to go private sometimes though. It took my visit to a private endocrinologist to get the NHS to prescribe me thyroxine after 10 years of knowing I had a problem.
An analogy might help here:
Let's say that you call a plumber round to your house to fix a leaking tap and (unwisely) forget to ask him how much he'll charge for the work first. If he tries to charge you £10,000, you can refuse to pay on the grounds that the charge is not 'reasonable'. If he then tries to sue you for the money, a court will almost certainly strike out the claim, again on the grounds of 'reasonableness'.

Equally though, if the plumber tries to charge a much lower sum, you can't then simply say, "I never agreed to pay you a penny before you started work, so you're not getting anything from me now". In such a situation, a court would rule that the plumber was entitled to 'reasonable' payment for his work.

Under the Principles of European Contract Law (which have been broadly adopted by the UK, even post-Brexit, and which generally reflect English contract law anyway), "reasonableness is to be judged by what persons acting in good faith and in the same situation as the parties would consider to be reasonable. In particular, in assessing what is reasonable the nature and purpose of the contract, the circumstances of the case, and the usages and practices of the trades or professions involved should be taken into account".

What that essentially boils down to is that if you ask a private health practitioner to carry out a procedure, it is reasonable for him/her to expect you to pay a charge for it that is broadly in line with what similar health practitioners would charge for such a procedure. As with my plumber analogy, it's not necessary for the person doing the job to tell you in advance how much it will cost. The cost simply has to be 'reasonable' in all of the circumstances.

With blood tests, the situation is further complicated by the fact that doctors don't have their own pathology labs. They have to send a sample to an external company and pay the fee charged by that company. They then add on their own fee for taking the sample and sending it off.

The fees charged by labs can vary widely, depending upon the nature of the blood test. For example, Nuffield Health will only charge you £32 for an 'online' blood glucose test but a 'comprehensive liver investigation' blood test costs £334:
https://www.nuffieldhealth.com/pathology-direct

So, without knowing what the doctor asked the lab to test for (and what the lab then charged him for carrying out that test), it's impossible to say whether or not the amount you've been charged is 'reasonable' or not. If, say, the test was only for blood glucose, a lab fee of up to £60 or so, plus perhaps another £50 to the doctor for taking the test and sending it off, might be reasonable (meaning that you could possibly argue that you've been overcharged).

However if the blood test was a very complex one, they might reasonably charge perhaps £400 for their work, plus another £50 to the doctor, meaning that you've actually been considerably undercharged.

I suggest asking the health provider to break down the £250 fee for the blood test into its two main components. i.e. the amount paid to the lab for the test and the amount charged by the health provider for taking the blood sample and sending it off. If the latter part looks grossly excessive (such as, say, £200), you might then be a better position to argue for a reduction but it could still prove difficult to argue such a case in a court of law. If the health provider states that such a fee is broadly similar to what other health care providers charge, it might still be regarded as 'reasonable'.
depends on what the blood test was

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