Dear Ann Landers: I just read in my local paper about a dentist who charged a $20 cancellation fee to a patient who didn’t call 24 hours in advance to cancel an appointment. According to the dentist’s patient-care policy, he has the right to charge up to $75 if the patient calls in and cancels, and $100 if the patient doesn’t show up. The dentist was quoted as saying, “When patients cancel with less than 24 hours’ notice, it is often difficult to contact another patient to come fill that spot.”
This doesn’t seem right to me, Ann. If I have an accident on my way to the dentist’s office and am rushed to the hospital, is it fair to charge me for missing my appointment? Both doctors and dentists often schedule appointments so close together that if the least little thing goes wrong, they are behind schedule. Why don’t they understand that a number of patients take time off work to make these appointments? It costs us money. Often, we spend anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour in the waiting room before the doctor sees us.
If dentists are going to charge us for canceling with less than 24 hours’ notice, is it not fair that patients charge them $1 for each minute we must wait past the scheduled appointment time? What do you say? - Delayed in Kentucky
Dear Delayed: You are assuming that the health professional and the patient are operating on a level playing field. Wrong. The patient is the one who is in need of attention and has sought out the professional’s services.
Busy doctors sometimes have emergencies, which means scheduled patients must wait. If you or your child should suddenly become ill, I’m sure you would be grateful if the doctor managed to squeeze you in. Invariably, the doctor who is running late did just that for someone else. Give him (or her) a break.
P.S.: Most dentists do not charge regular patients who don’t show up if they have a legitimate reason for not doing so. However, patients who are repeated no-shows should be charged.
Dear Ann Landers: When “Minneapolis” wrote to you about the heroic young Americans who fought fascism in Spain in 1936 with the George Washington and Abraham Lincoln Brigades, she neglected to mention that the returning survivors were branded as communists in the United States and many were fired from or denied government jobs.
I worked in a federal government agency in 1946. My friend was a fellow employee who fought in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and later in the U.S. Army during World War II. When he returned home, he was branded a communist and hounded out of the agency.
There is a government building in Washington, D.C., honoring J. Edgar Hoover, the man who instigated these witch hunts and labeled Martin Luther King Jr., among others, a communist. How unjust! - Coral Gables, Fla.
Dear Coral: The International Brigades were originally formed by the communists in the Soviet Union, although one didn’t have to be a communist to join. Their mission was to fight fascism. Many freedom-loving Americans didn’t care whose idea it was; they simply wanted to help. Unfortunately, some, like your friend, paid dearly for this alliance when they returned home.
Gem of the Day (Credit Cher): The trouble with too many women is that they get all excited about nothing - and then they go ahead and marry him.
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