CHICAGO (CBS) — A visit to the dentist never made Doreen Chlumsky cringe, but then her dentist office called to verify her appointment that changed while explaining new safety measures.
“They would take my temperature, and they had a list of questions,” she said.
But before ending the call she was told one more thing.
“There was going to be a $15 infectious disease fee to cover their COVID-19 expenses,” she said.
It turns out her dentist and others across the state are tacking on surcharge fees. Some call them personal protective equipment fees, but either way Chlumsky questions the need.
“Even though I’m still working, which I’m very grateful for, my company had to cut my pay by 10%,” she said. “I could not recover my 10%, and I don’t think it was right.”
Eric Larson, executive director of the Illinois State Dental Society, said the fees are essential for dentists to offset the additional cost of buying PPE.
“It needs to be a transparent process,” he said.
CBS 2 asked Larson if the money is really going toward PPE or if it could be going towards the profits lost.
“I don’t think that’s the case whatsoever,” Larson said. “The cost went up of PPE just due to supply and demand right now with a global shortage.”
The fee is being seen in other businesses as well. This week Harold’s Chicken on Broadway reversed its 26% COVID-19 fee after much disgust online. But Larson says when it comes to dentists don’t expect a reversal.
“What used to cost say a dollar is now $5 or $6, and that’s throughout really all the required PPE that’s necessary,” he said.
Chlumsky would rather they charge insurance and not patients.
“They told me they had a negotiated price with the dental insurance and they could not pass it on to them,” she said.
The American Dental Association is working to get that fee tacked onto insurance companies, but for now expect to pay between $15 and $25 more.