Frequently Asked Questions
Health and Services | Office and Appointment Information | Online Bill Pay and eStatements | Billing and Insurance | Maternal-Fetal Medicine
Health and Services
Q: How often should I get a pap smear?
A: Women’s Healthcare Associates strongly recommends annual exams for all women. A pap test is only one component of your health that is discussed at an annual exam.
For your information, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has recently changed its guidelines for when women should begin getting pap tests and how often they should be performed.
- Begin pap screening at 21 years of age regardless of sexual activity (only 0.1% of cervical cancer occurs before the age of 21)
If previous pap smears are normal for the last three years future tests should be performed:
- Every two years for women age 21-29
- Every three years for women over age 30
More frequent screening may be needed in certain circumstances. Talk to your provider at your annual exam to determine how frequently you should get a pap test.
Q: What should I do if I think I’m pregnant?
A: Congratulations! If you think you’re pregnant, call us right away! We’ll help you find a provider that meets your needs and we’ll get you scheduled for you first appointment.
Q: What is going to happen at my first obstetric visit?
A: At your first obstetric visit, we will draw labs, discuss your medical history and provide valuable prenatal education to help you get the healthiest start possible to your pregnancy. There will be ample time to ask questions.
When you meet with your provider for the first time, he or she will determine your estimated delivery date, obtain a pap smear, if you are due to have one, and complete a physical exam (which often includes a breast and pelvic exam).
Q: Is there an ultrasound at the first obstetric visit with my provider?
A: Your provider may order an ultrasound at your first visit, if indicated. It is important to remember that this is a medical test that could be used to confirm your due date, evaluate maternal and fetal anatomy and evaluate amniotic fluid and placenta. An ultrasound may also be scheduled at between 8 and 12 weeks. An ultrasound will be performed at approximately 20 weeks to look at the baby’s anatomy.
Q: Does your office perform 3D ultrasounds?
A: Yes. Sometimes 3-D or 4-D Ultrasound is used at Northwest Perinatal Center to obtain more information on an area of concern, such as a cleft lip or palate, a cardiac abnormality or an aspect of the baby’s anatomy that is difficult to capture using 2-D ultrasound because of the way the baby is positioned in the womb. While it is very exciting to see a ‘picture’ of your child captured using these technologies, it is a medical test that your provider may order when indicated.
Q: How do I prepare for an ultrasound?
A: A full bladder is typically needed for portions of the ultrasound examination. Be sure to drink plenty of fluid in the hour or so leading up to your appointment. Typically, 16 to 24 ounces consumed a half hour before your exam is sufficient. Although a full bladder allows better visualization of the lower uterus and cervix, severe discomfort can indicate overfilling of the bladder and is not necessary to complete the exam. If this occurs, empty your bladder and continue sipping fluids.
Q: Do I see the same provider throughout my pregnancy? Does this provider deliver my baby?
A: The health of you and your baby is our highest priority. It’s important for you to understand how we work as a seamless team. Your provider wants to discuss this with you personally at your initial visit.
Q: What should I bring to the childbirth education classes?
A: Information on our Childbirth Education Classes is available at the front desk. Aim to complete the 4th week of class by your 35th week of pregnancy.
Q: How am I notified when my test results are in?
A: We usually notify patients of test results with a letter or phone call. Please call our office if you have not received your results within two weeks.
Q: Does your office perform sports physicals?
Q: When should my daughter schedule her 1st annual exam?
A: Our providers recommend annual exams when you daughter is ready for birth control or has gynecological questions or concern. Cervical screening, known commonly as a pap smear, should begin at age 21.
Q: Can I schedule my annual one year in advance?
A: Unfortunately, no. We schedule our providers up to six months in advance. We will, however, call you to remind you four to six months before you are due for an annual exam.
Q: What do I do if I need a prescription refill?
A: We recommend calling your pharmacy first to ensure accurate and timely refills. We do understand there are times you may need to call our office and leave a message for our medical staff.
Q: How do I get my prescription refilled if it runs out before my next visit?
A: Call your pharmacy – even if you’re out of refills, they can send a request to us. Please make sure to schedule your next appointment.
Q: What if I have questions or concerns during non-business hours?
A: Our office is available to address questions and concerns during business hours. If you believe you have a medical emergency, go to the emergency room or call 911.
Q: What do I need to do if I have an urgent concern after regular business hours?
A: If you’re one of our patients and you have an urgent concern that cannot wait until the next business day, call our office and our answering service will notify the provider on call. If you believe you have a medical emergency, go to the emergency room or call 911.
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Office and Appointment Information
Q: Why am I asked to verify my identity so many times when I'm in the office?
A: Although it can be irritating, we may ask you to verify your name and birth date multiple times during a visit. For example, when checking in, in the exam room and when any samples are collected for lab tests. This is for your safety to prevent errors in diagnosis and treatment. By verifying your identity in this manner, we’re also complying with national patient safety goals.
Q: Why can’t I leave a message on my provider’s voice mail?
A: To assure that every issue is documented in your medical record and you receive the fastest and most appropriate response, we take your message personally and direct it accordingly.
Q: How do I schedule an urgent appointment?
A: We’ll have you speak with one of our Advice Nurses who will assess your situation and determine the most appropriate next step, whether that’s an appointment, a referral, a prescription refill, etc.
Q: How do I obtain a copy of my medical records? Is there a charge?
A: Complete a Medical Records Release Form and fax it, mail it or bring it in to our office. We make every effort to complete most records requests within 10 business days, but please let us know of any upcoming appointment dates or other deadlines and we will do our best to accommodate them. If you are requesting your records to be sent directly to another provider, there is no charge for the service. If you are requesting a copy for any other purpose, the charge will be $20 for up to 10 pages and $0.25 for every page thereafter. We can mail or fax you your medical records or you may pick them up in person. We are not able to email them, but we can secure message them to you if you have a patient portal account and there is no fee for this service.
Note that a Medical Records Release Form is not required for us to send your records to your primary care provider or a provider to whom we’ve referred you. If you have any questions, please contact our office.
Q: How do I have my medical records transferred to your office?
A: Call the office of the provider who has your records and follow their instructions.
Q: Why do you scan my driver’s license into the system; can I deny this?
A: Scanning your driver’s license provides us a visual way to verify your identity to assure, for example, that someone else doesn’t attempt to receive medical services and/or insurance benefits under your name. You may deny the request.
Q: Why do you take a picture for my chart; can I deny this?
A: Taking your picture for your medical record is another way for us to visually verify your identity. You may deny the request or ask that the picture be taken on another visit.
Q: What is the difference between the Peterkort South and Peterkort North offices?
A: Location only – Peterkort South is located on the left, or south, side of the parking lot at 9555 SW Barnes Road, Suite 100. Peterkort North is located on the right side of the parking lot at 9701 SW Barnes Road, Suite 200.
Q: Can you email me the registrations forms?
A: To assure our communication with you is consistent and our response timely, we route all communication through the same channels. At this time, we’re not using email to communicate with patients.
Q: How do I get disability, FMLA or other forms completed?
A: Ask in your office who to give the forms to – it will likely be one of our check-out staff. We will complete the forms request within three business days. There is a charge of $20 per form set per person (for example, if you and your partner each need FMLA forms completed for the birth of your child, the total would be $40). The charge will be collected before the forms are picked up, mailed or faxed to you. We can accept your credit card payment over the phone, if you wish. There is no fee for forms generated by Women’s Healthcare Associates, such as a Release to Return to Work form.
Completion of forms is considered a non-covered service by your health insurance company; therefore, we will not bill them for it. If your employer requires the completion of forms for medical certification of your condition, then your employer is required to reimburse you for the cost of obtaining the medical certification (i.e., our fee for completing the forms). Some disability insurance companies reimburse for fees associated with obtaining medical certification of your condition, as well. Contact your disability insurance provider to determine if they do. We will provide a receipt to facilitate your reimbursement request.
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Billing and Insurance
Q: What is a co-pay?
A: A co-pay is the flat fee determined by your insurance company that you pay each time you receive medical care, usually between $10 and $50.
Q: What is co-insurance?
A: Co-insurance is the percentage of your medical bills that you have to pay, typically after you’ve paid your deductible.
Q: What is a deductible?
A: A deductible is the amount you must reach before your insurance company starts paying for care.
Q: What is does “disallowed” mean on my statement?
A: “Disallowed” is the term that our billing software uses to signify the difference between the cost of the service and the amount we’re contracted to receive from your insurance company. It is, essentially, a discount in the price of our services.
Q: What does ‘transferred from insurance’ mean?
A: ‘Transferred from insurance’ is the term our billing software uses to indicate the charges that you’re responsible for after your insurance company has paid on a claim per your plan benefits. Think of it in terms of the responsibility for payment has been ‘transferred’ from the insurance company to you.
Q: Why didn’t my insurance pay?
A: Your insurance company processes claims based on your contract benefits and the best answer to this question will come from them.
Q: Do you charge a specialist co-pay for all visits?
A: Women’s Healthcare Associates is a specialist practice. However, co-pays are determined by your insurance company and many insurance companies require only a primary care co-pay for certain types of visits, such as annual exams. If you pay a primary care co-pay in our office when your insurance company requires a specialist co-pay, Women’s Healthcare Associates may bill you for the difference.
Q: Do I have a co-pay for my pregnancy visits?
A: No. For our pregnant patients, we do what is called ‘global billing.’ When you first see us during your pregnancy, we check your benefits with your insurance company. Working with them, we estimate your portion of the total cost of your provider’s charges for your pregnancy care based on your coverage and the expectation of a routine pregnancy, including a routine delivery and routine postpartum care. We provide this estimate to you at your second or third visit, go over it with you and ask that you sign a copy. The estimated sum, called the ‘OB Deposit,’ is due at the beginning of your eighth month of pregnancy. Lab work and ultrasounds are billed separately, as the charges are incurred, and are not part of the OB deposit. Any balance remaining after you pay the OB deposit is billed following delivery.
Q: What is an OB Deposit and why didn’t you bill my insurance for it?
A: The OB Deposit is an estimate of the total amount of your provider’s charges for routine pregnancy care, excluding lab work and ultrasounds, which are beyond your insurance plan benefit and, by definition, your responsibility. We estimate this amount at the beginning of your pregnancy care by contacting your insurance company. This amount will be reflected on your monthly statement but will not be due until the beginning of your eight month of pregnancy.
If your insurance coverage changes during your pregnancy, we will recalculate the OB Deposit. If the OB Deposit collected ends up being less than or greater than your final responsibility after delivery and postpartum care, we will bill you for the remaining amount or refund the overpayment.
Remember, we bill your insurance company for the full amount of your provider’s care during your pregnancy – called the ‘global charges.’ The OB Deposit is our estimate of the portion of the global charges for which you will be responsible based information obtained from your insurance company.
Q: I thought that I would only have to pay my OB Deposit; why do I have a balance for this ultrasound?
A: The OB Deposit includes your provider’s fee only for routine prenatal, delivery and postpartum care. Lab work, ultrasounds and anything outside of routine provider’s care during pregnancy are billed separately as the charges are incurred.
Q: Did you already bill my insurance?
A: You will only receive a statement from us when you have a patient balance – an amount you’re responsible to pay. We will not bill you until your insurance company has reduced your balance, if appropriate, according to your contract benefits. If the insurance information we have on file for you is inaccurate or missing, call your doctor’s office.
Q: Do you accept the Oregon Health Plan?
A: We are contracted with the Oregon Health Plan for Open Card (established patients only) and Care Oregon.
Q: I thought I had paid my balance; why am I getting a bill for the same thing again?
A: It’s possible that your payment was received or posted after the statement was generated and the two ‘crossed in the mail.’ However, if you have repetitive services over a period of time (such as repeat ultrasounds), the balance due may be exactly the same on consecutive statements. Look closely at your date of service to determine if this is the case.
Q: I never saw this provider; why am I getting a bill for his/her services?
A: This happens most typically in the case of ultrasounds. When your Women’s Healthcare Associates provider, or a provider outside of our organization, orders an abdominal ultrasound during pregnancy, the results are reviewed by one of our maternal-fetal medicine specialists who has additional training and expertise. Even though you never saw this doctor, you will see a charge for his or her services on your statement.
Sometimes providers outside of Women’s Healthcare Associates send their patient’s ultrasounds to us for review only. In this case, we will bill you separately for our provider’s professional service.
Q: Why did I get two bills for an ultrasound?
A: If your provider sends your ultrasound to Women’s Healthcare Associates for review by one of our Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialists, you will receive two bills: one from your provider for performing the ultrasound and one from Women’s Healthcare Associates for reviewing it.
Q: Why is the hospital bill separate from yours?
A: While we have business arrangements with several hospitals to use their space and equipment, we are not part of the hospital system. We will bill you for the services we provide. The hospital will bill you separately for its services. You may also receive bills from additional providers outside of Women’s Healthcare Associates, such as an anesthesiologist, when applicable.
Q: I already met my deductible according to my insurance company; why do I still have a balance?
A; This could be due to a number of reasons. Your Women’s Healthcare Associates charges may have been applied in part or full to your deductible, in which case the charges may still be your responsibility. Even though your deductible has been met, you may still be responsible for a coinsurance amount until your out-of-pocket maximum is reached. If you have questions, contact your insurance company for a complete explanation.
Q: Your office called my insurance before I had the IUD placed, and they said I would only have to pay a co-pay; why is the balance so large?
A: When Women’s Healthcare Associates checks your benefits before an IUD placement, your insurance company provides us with an estimate of your benefit – they won’t guarantee what the final charges will be. Many things can affect your final responsibility, including the timing of the procedure compared to the date we checked your benefits and how that relates to your plan’s benefit year.
Call your insurance company if you have questions.
Q: Is this provider contracted with my insurance company?
A: Women’s Healthcare Associates contracts with insurance companies as a group, for the most part, meaning if one of our providers is contracted, they all are. Contact your insurance company to verify your coverage.
Q: Does my insurance cover pelvic ultrasounds?
A: Coverage for a pelvic ultrasound typically depends on the reason it was ordered by your provider. We highly recommend you check with your insurance company to determine your benefit; the charges can be significant if the test is not covered.
Q: Does my surgery need a pre-authorization?
A: It depends on your insurance company. Women’s Healthcare Associates will research and document pre-authorization for an IUD placement or any service performed in a hospital by contacting your insurance company. In-office procedures don’t typically require pre-authorization. Note that we do not verify your benefits for in-office tests and procedures that we consider normal protocol – it is your responsibility to understand your benefits.
Q: Why do you ask for a co-pay at my annual, then refund it later? Why don’t you ask for a co-pay when I know it’s $20?
A: If your insurance card indicates a co-pay amount, we will collect that amount at the time of service. Sometimes the information on your insurance card may not be consistent with your current plan benefits. If we have over- or under-charged you for your co-pay, we will either issue a refund or send you a bill for the remaining amount.
Q: On my statement it says that I am in review for collections; why? I’ve paid my bills on time.
A: ‘In review for collections’ is a statement generated by our billing software that we cannot remove. It is automatically included on your statement when you have a balance that is past 90 days due based on the date the balance was first billed to you.
One of our financial representatives personally reviews any account that has a balance that is past 90 days due if we have not received payment. We want to work with you – please contact us if you have a balance that you are unable to pay in full.
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Q: What is a Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist?
A: A Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist (MFM), also known as a Perinatologist, is an Obstetrician/Gynecologist who has extensive additional education and clinical training in the care of obstetrical, medical, genetic and surgical complications of pregnancy and their effects on both the mother and fetus.
All the physicians at Northwest Perinatal Center are certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and are further board-certified or board-eligible in the area of maternal-fetal medicine — certification which requires two to three years of training after a basic residency and the passing of an additional written and oral examination.
Q: How is care coordinated between my provider and the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialists at Northwest Perinatal Center?
A: Typically, a MFM is a resource that will be used by your care provider to provide supplemental information and counseling regarding your pregnancy. The extent of this interaction is based upon the individual reasons for referral, and can take of the following forms:
- A one-time visit with recommendations
- Continued ongoing shared care between both providers
- The complete assumption of care by our MFMs
In each of these situations, prompt and clear communication between our MFMs and your care provider is our goal.
Q: Why might a patient wish to be referred to Northwest Perinatal Center?
A: Patients referred to Northwest Perinatal Center are typically seen for one of several reasons:
- Fetal issues including high-resolution ultrasound, genetic counseling, and prenatal diagnosis
- Maternal medical issues during pregnancy such as diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, history of blood clots, or medication exposures
- Pregnancy complications such as prior premature births, preeclampsia, or pregnancy loss
Because of the expertise our providers have in these fields, patients may wish to be seen at Northwest Perinatal Center for additional counseling and obstetric care.
Q: Why is a Northwest Perinatal Center Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist ideally suited to care for women with high-risk pregnancies?
A: The MFMs at Northwest Perinatal Center have additional training in caring for complicated pregnancies. All of our MFMs have trained at some of the leading centers for high-risk obstetric care in the country and also have additional expertise in a variety of fields. In addition to being experts in their field, our MFMs are supported by highly trained staff and utilize state-of-the-art equipment, which enhances their ability to provide you with pregnancy care that is on the leading edge of today's medicine.
Q: Is there any new research and/or technology concerning treatments for obstetrical problems?
A: Research and technology in the area of maternal-fetal medicine is constantly moving forward, and the providers at Northwest Perinatal Center stay abreast of the latest studies and trials. Click here to read Perinatal Progress, a newsletter written and compiled by Northwest Perinatal Center providers that highlights some of the most recent developments in maternal-fetal medicine.
Q: How long does it take to obtain test results from Northwest Perinatal Center?
A: Results from an amniocentesis to examine the fetal chromosomes typically take approximately 10-14 days to return. The results are relayed to the patient and referring providers as soon as they are available.
Q: What are the benefits for the physician or care provider who refers his/her high-risk patient to Northwest Perinatal Center?
- Confidence that your patient is cared for by an experienced and compassionate team of high-risk providers.
- Assurance that state-of-the-art technology is supporting the evaluation and care of your patient.
- Prompt follow-up to you and your patient.Care options designed to fit your preferences and your patient's individual needs, including one-time consultations, patient continuing co-management, or complete assumption of care by our high-risk providers.
- Immediate in-hospital consultations and complete care for maternal transports.
Q: What geographical area does the Northwest Perinatal Center serve?
A: The Northwest Perinatal Center serves patients in Oregon and Southwest Washington.
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