Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a home visit cost?
Home visits start as low as $60 for members and $100 for non-members, depending on your location (I don't mean to be geographically biased, but I do have to take into consideration travel time and the frustration of Dallas traffic...). See chart for home visit fee schedule. Additional tests and services and their fees (ex: flu test, Strep test) are listed under A la Carte services, and only apply to non-subscribing clients. Subscribing members are never charged for extra tests or services. Also note that subscribing members, who pay 30-40% less, are only charged when the home visit is for an initial evaluation of an acute illness. Members are not charged a home visit fee for follow up visits, well check ups or preventative care. After hours, home visits fees are doubled, though the cost for additional tests and services remains the same.
Why should I have to pay a home visit fee if I am paying a monthly fee?
The monthly fee functions as a retainer to keep Dr. Stef on call for your family and provides you with unlimited, direct access to Dr. Stef. As a subscribing member you also get the benefit of free follow ups, free annual check ups, and management & coordination of care for chronic conditions. To keep monthly rates low, home visits requested for an acute need incur an additional fee. If the model were designed to be "all inclusive", then monthly fees would have to be higher. By charging a modest fee for acute visits, the monthly rates can be lower, and then families who only request 1 or 2 home visits per year are not picking up the cost for families who request 9 or 10 home visits per year.
Do you accept insurance?
No. Dr. Stef On Call is a Direct Patient Care provider. That means I am not under contract with any insurance companies. I prefer to serve the needs of you, the patient, and not the needs and demands of the insurance companies, or any other third party or government agency that dictates how (and when and where) we (physicians) care for our patients, not to mention how we document that care, and then sets their own parameters, based on the appropriate checking of boxes and computer-generated analysis of data points, for determining the value of our services. (Forgive my digression...) I know that will be disappointing to anyone that has "good insurance" coverage, but these days "good insurance" sounds like a paradox. Not only does insurance detract from the doctor-patient relationship and interfere with the ability to obtain the care you want, when you want it, from whom you want it, it also rarely pays for any of it... At best, most of us have high-deductible plans in which case we pay out of pocket for just about everything anyway.... Being a Direct Care Provider is the only way to escape the burdensome over-regulated health care system and simply care for patients in the truest sense of the word.
Will I be able to file a claim with my insurance and get reimbursed?
Certainly you may file a claim with your insurance. I will provide you with a billing statement that includes all the necessary medical codes so that you may file a claim. Whether or not you’ll get reimbursed - and how much - depends on your individual policy and the “out of network” benefits it offers.
How do I find out if my insurance will pay for services from Dr. Stef On Call, PLLC?
You’ll need to familiarize yourself with your insurance policy’s “out of network benefits”. If you have an “out of network deductible”, then any charges from Dr. Stef On Call, PLLC, would go towards that deductible.
My insurance covers 100% of preventative care - including check ups and vaccines. Will they cover preventative care with Dr. Stef On Call, PLLC?
Most likely not since Dr. Stef On Call is "out of network". That being said, after 12 months of subscribing for Comprehensive Care, annual well check upsare included (i.e. no home visit fee). As for vaccines, I would hope that insurance would cover the cost of vaccines regardless of who administers the vaccines, but sad to say this is not always the case. You will need to check with your insurance carrier to see if they will reimburse you for the cost of any necessary immunizations. The good news is that this is only an issue in the first 18 months of life (when vaccines are due at nearly every check up), and once again at 4 years, but after that it should no longer be an issue.
What if I don't have any health insurance?
Not a problem for Dr. Stef - the cost for Dr. Stef on Call services & membership are much less than the cost of health insurance and Dr. Stef can take care of most if not all of your pediatric needs. That being said, it's never a good idea to go without some sort of insurance coverage. Insurance may help pay for outside services such as visits with specialists, urgent care or ER visits, hospitalizations, prescription medications, lab processing fees, radiology procedures, surgical procedures, etc., and other unexpected medical expenses.
How do you accept payments?
Cash, check, credit card, debit card or, most commonly, via Pay Pal. HSA debit cards can be swiped at the time of service to make payments directly from your HSA account.
What is an HSA account?
An HSA is a Health Savings Account. You can save tax-deferred dollars in an HSA. If you have a “high-deductible” health plan, you are eligible for an HSA. It is usually offered by employers, but even if it is not, you can open your own HSA (so long as you are eligible - i.e. you have a high-deductible health plan). You can use the tax-deferred savings in your HSA to pay for any medical services that are not covered by your insurance or that are applied towards your deductible, including services provided by Dr. Stef On Call.
I'm pretty sure my child has an ear infection... will you call in an antibiotic for her? Or: I think my child has Strep throat... will you call in an antibiotic for him?
Mmmmm, no, not likely. That's not what this service is about. Unless I am familiar with your child and have other reason to believe this to be the case, I will likely want to see your child. Seeing your child is the only way I can be sure of the diagnosis and determine the appropriate treatment. Simply calling in an antibiotic for an ear ache or a sore throat is not good medical practice and will lead to a lot of unnecessary antibiotic usage. The goal really should be to avoid antibiotics when possible. Though there are some things that can be adequately assessed and treated over the phone, an ear infection or Strep throat can not be confirmed over the phone and, in general, I am not likely to call in an antibiotic without evaluating a child first.
My child has asthma and just ran out of albuterol and he's leaving for camp tomorrow. Will you refill his albuterol prescription?
If your child is a patient of mine and I have seen him and treated him for asthma in the past, then of course I will. However, no prescriptions will be called in for anyone that I have not seen or treated for the condition in question. That's just not safe or ethical.
What is the fee for a well visit?
Well visits are typically only offered for patients who are under the Comprehensive Care plan. An initial well check up on a new patient who is initially establishing care is $250 for the first child and $100 per additional siblings. This charge also covers the first monthly subscription fee. After 12 months of subscribing for Comprehensive Care, annual well check ups are FREE.
How long do most home visits take?
There is no set time limit on home visits. I will follow your cues and your child's cues to set the pace of each visit. Typically, most sick visits take 20-30 minutes and most well visits take about 45 minutes, though an initial "get established" visit is likely to take 1.5-2 hours.
What about vaccines? Does Dr. Stef On Call provide vaccines?
Yes, I can. I certainly advocate that all children get vaccinated with the routinely recommended immunizations in a timely manner - most of which are done in the first 18 months of life, with a set of boosters at 4yo, and then a few more recommended at 11-12yo. (For information about vaccines in general, visit www.vaccineinformation.org.) Although I do not keep a supply of vaccines on hand, I can easily order any vaccine that I might need and can usually have it within 24 hours. For my patients who are under the Comprehensive Care, I will either provide all the necessary vaccines or I will arrange for them to get the necessary vaccines elsewhere. We will first need to consider the cost and whether or not their insurance will cover the cost of the vaccines if administered by an out-of-network provider. I will address this individually with prospective members.
What are your “preferred hours” vs. “after hours”?
Preferred hours are Monday - Thursday 7am - 7pm, Friday 7am - 5pm, and Saturday & Sunday 9am - 5pm. After hours are all other times and the following holidays: New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve & Christmas Day. Members are free to contact Dr. Stef anytime, it is kindly requested that after-hour calls and requests be limited to urgent matters only.
Is Dr. Stef on Call available 24/7?
My best answer is “sometimes”. Dr. Stef On Call, PLLC, is a “one-man show”, if you will. There is no support staff or answering service. I will do my best to have my cell phone with me at all times and be available to answer calls whenever they come in, but I can't say that I will be immediately available 24/7.... If I will not be available for any length of time, I will state such on my voice mail. Members will be notified in advance if I am going to be out of town or otherwise unavailable and will be provided back-up options for seeking medical care if needed. As always, “if this is an emergency, hang up and dial 911”.
As far as house-calls, I will do everything I can to make a house call when a member is sick and needs to be seen, and to accommodate their schedule. I certainly don't want to send anyone to an urgent care clinic or an Emergency Room if they don't really need to be there, though, unlike such facilities, I can’t guarantee that I will be available 24/7/365. If I am not available and a patient needs to be seen, I will assist in making other arrangements to ensure that the child gets the medical attention they need, and will be sure to follow up with the patient promptly.
A la carte services are different, as I do not have the same obligation to respond to a non-member’s request. Additionally, I will not likely make an after-hours house call to a non-member with whom I am not familiar, or any time I feel that safety may be a concern.
What are the benefits of signing up for a membership with Dr. Stef On Call, PLLC?
Consistency: One doctor that knows you and your child. One doctor that strives to gain your trust and confidence to build the ideal doctor-patient relationship. One doctor dedicated to caring for your children. One doctor that you can depend on. One doctor that your kids will know, trust and confide in as they grow.
Convenience and flexibility: easy access any time - email, text, call - and get a response directly from your doctor. No constant busy signals. No waiting on hold. No leaving messages and waiting all day for a call back. No phone tag with the nurse. No rearranging your entire day to make it in to the doctor’s office for an urgent sick visit. No traffic to deal with. No parking issues. No front office hassles. No waiting rooms. No exam rooms. No friendly new germs to take home.
Quality care: top-notch training at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas - a nationally recognized and highly respected pediatric training program - followed by 15 years of experience in private practice with an emphasis on delivering the highest standard of quality care.
Compassionate care: Feeling like you have received sincerely compassionate care when you are one of dozens of patients being filtered through a doctor’s office each day may be challenging, especially when the staff and providers are more focused on their computer than on you. With Dr. Stef On Call, PLLC, there are no patients waiting to be seen in the room next door, no frequent interruptions, no crowded waiting rooms, and I typically leave the computer at home. The focus is on you and your child. There is no rush, no time constraints. We can move through the visit at whatever pace works best for you and your child, with plenty of time to discuss your concerns and answer your questions. We are not limited to discussing just 1 or 2 topics per visit. I want to understand the whole picture. I am not preoccupied with checking a series of boxes to satisfy documentation requirements and fit you into some protocol set forth by some third party regulations (that's the "no insurance" thing again....). Without having those restraints and distractions, there is no doubt that you and your child will feel sincerely and compassionately cared for.
Transparency: all costs and fees are listed on website for your review. For members, there's a monthly fee (that decreases as your children get older) and a flat fee for home visits ($60, $80 or $100 depending on your geographic location). There's no additional fees for tests, procedures or other services provided for members, and no home visit fee for annual well check ups or for routine follow up visits. There's no billing department, no hidden fees, no surprises, no alarming bills in the mail weeks or months later, and no confusing “explanation of benefits” to try to interpret. If there is any question or concern about the costs and fees, I am happy to discuss and can easily make adjustments if warranted (try doing that with your insurance - ha!).
How do I sign up?
Send me an email and we’ll find a time to talk about SERVICE OPTIONS and get acquainted. If interested in enrolling in Comprehensive Care we will set up a time for a “get established” visit. Although my intention is to have long-term relationships with families, there is no contractual commitment. Membership is monthly and can be cancelled at any time.
What exactly is a “get established” visit?
A “get established” visit is like a comprehensive check up. During the “get established” visit I will come to your home and get to know you and your child/ children, obtain a complete medical history, family history and social history, and perform a physical exam (like a check-up) on your child/ children who is/are enrolling in Comprehensive Care. This visit will likely take about an hour for 1 child, and an extra 30-40 minutes for every additional child. The cost is $250 for 1 child, and $100 for every additional child. This visit establishes the foundation of our relationship and provides me with the basic background information necessary for me to care for your child/ children in a more complete and personalized approach.
When does my “membership” start?
At the “get established” visit we will review the Patient Services Agreement, which outlines the membership benefits, fees and policies. If all is agreed upon, your membership commences as soon as you sign the agreement.
When do I start paying the monthly fee?
The "get established visit" will cover the cost of the first month's subscription fee. The first monthly payment will be due on the 1st of the following month and will be prorated accordingly.
How do I keep up with the monthly membership dues?
The monthly membership dues can be automated through the Pay Pal.
What if I want to terminate my membership?
You may terminate your membership at any time for any reason by simply canceling your monthly payment. However, it is requested that you inform Dr. Stef On Call, PLLC, in writing of your intention to cancel so that there is no confusion about a missed payment and so that the Patient Services Agreement can be amended with the proper termination date, releasing the doctor from further patient care responsibilities.
Can I still request A la Carte services if I terminate my membership?
Certainly! Understandably, not everyone is going to feel the need for the level of care offered by a membership, or may "outgrow" the need (though remember, monthly rates go down as your child/children get older, and then there's additional discounts for Loyal Patients). If you terminate your membership, but later find yourself in need of a house call, you may certainly call on me for a la carte services.
Will I be refunded if I chose to terminate my membership?
Monthly payments made prior to the notice of termination will not be refunded. It is your responsibility to cancel your automatic payment once you have notified the company of your intention to terminate the membership.
What if I feel I deserve a refund?
I want happy clients and I am here to serve your needs. If you feel I breached my responsibilities, did not fulfill my obligation, or you are otherwise dis-satisfied with the care you received, let’s talk about it and come up with a solution. If a refund is in order, then a refund will be arranged.