Patients flock to doctors' offices before year's end

Patients flock to doctors' offices before year's end

As the year winds down, doctors' offices wind up for the busy season. Waiting rooms and schedule books fill up with surgeries over the holiday break.

"We start basically reserving spots for patients in September and even earlier," said Dr. John Noble, orthopedic surgeon at Imperial Calcasieu Surgical Center.

He sets aside the week between Christmas and New Year's for surgeries to accommodate the holiday rush.

"It's a convenient time particularly because of people who go to school or work at schools," explained Dr. Noble.

One big reason: insurance deductibles will start all over again come January 1.

"In their minds their health care is essentially free because their third party payer is paying for it," said Dr. Noble.

Depending on your health insurance plan, deductibles can be from the hundreds to the thousands of dollars and your bank account will take a big hit paying if paid all at once. Others are trying to spend money from a flex account that may disappear January 1. Dr. Noble also says for some patients it is all about a fresh start.

"People want to get things done before the new year and for some it's part of their New Year's resolution that they are going to get this problem fixed. They want to get it done before the new year, so they can start the new year right."

With six or seven surgeries just for one day, Dr. Noble's schedule is full to the brim and his colleagues aren't getting off easy. The Imperial Calcasieu Surgical Center had over 50 patients in just one day. The center says even though the holidays tend to be busy every year, they have seen a 15 percent jump in patients from the 4th quarter of this year compared to 2010.

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