EAST NAPLES — The Collier County Health Department has revised patient fees for medical and dental services for the first time since 2006, but the poor still will get breaks on fees.
Collier County commissioners recently approved the health department's new schedule of fees, most of which take effect between now and Feb. 1, health department spokeswoman Deb Millsap said.
An exception will be the flu shot, which remains $30 for the rest of flu season until July 1, she said. After July 1, the flu shot is $35, she said.
The health department is a state agency that gets some financial support from county government.
"This is really just to bring us up to where we should have been a year ago," said Dr. Joan Colfer, executive director of the health department. "It's a big deal to change fees. You need a methodology and commissioners (in briefings) asked how we did it. It takes staff time."
The health department doesn't offer primary-care services but its clinics for HIV/AIDs and tuberculosis, and its dental clinic, are vital to patients who would have no place else to go for care, Colfer said.
The department didn't want to raise fees during the recession and compound hardships on "self-paying" patients who don't have Medicaid or private insurance.
About 30 percent of the health department's patients pay their own fees. Many qualify for a sliding-scale reduction in the fees based on their low-income status and family size. Nearly 60 percent of that group aren't charged, she said.
The health department staff last year handled 10,523 patient visits for infectious disease services and provided immunizations to 3,713 adults, which often included two immunizations. The combined budget for those services was $1,941,251.
The department also provided nearly 21,000 childhood immunizations to 8,781 children, and the budget for that service last year was $353,717.
Childhood immunizations will continue at no charge to families although Medicaid and private insurance can be billed an administrative fee, Colfer said.
The dental clinic, which offers an array of services for children and adults, handled 9,900 patient visits last year and its budget was nearly $1,283,051.
The dental clinic staff is operating at capacity with seven dental chairs, Colfer said.
It has two full-time dentists, another who is part-time in season, and two full-time hygienists.
"We are out of space," she said.
The Naples Children & Education Foundation, sponsors of the Naples Winter Wine Festival, spent millions to build a state-of-the-art children's dental center on the Edison State College campus in East Naples, but Colfer points out adults lack access to dental care if they are on Medicaid or are uninsured.
"For adults, that clearly is an unmet need," she said.
Some charges in the updated fee schedule are new in the dental and medical clinics because some levels of services previously weren't separated out from basic services and needed to be, she said.
Fees for some adult vaccinations are changing to reflect costs, while an administration fee is going to $20 when it had been $5, Colfer said.
On the plus side, fees are staying the same for pool inspections and for food service inspections at nursing homes and elsewhere. They also are staying the same for birth and death certificates.
All told, fees will bring in $3.1 million this year, which accounts for 27 percent of the department's budget, according to Alan Portis, the department's financial director.
The department's current-year budget is $11.5 million, with county government contributing 11 percent at $1.26 million. The state and federal governments contribute a combined 53 percent of the budget, or $6.13 million. Grants provide 9 percent for about $1 million.