Frequently Asked Questions

What is a membership practice?
The “membership practice” model is one in which each patient who is a member of the practice pays an Annual Fee that covers the Internal Medicine care received in-office as well as enhanced services not normally available in a traditional medical practice, such as extended office hours, direct access to the physician by cell phone or email, same or next day sick appointments, unhurried office visits, short in-office wait times, hospital visits and house calls when necessary.  There will be no other bills unless you exceed the number of covered visits, as explained below.  This new approach is really a return to old-fashioned care.  It is a smaller, more intimate practice that allows you to have a personal relationship with your physician.  The goal is to provide care that is more responsive, thorough, and individualized.

What does the Annual Fee cover?
The annual fee covers a comprehensive annual physical examination; EKG; flu shot; 7 additional office visits throughout the year; home visits in time of sickness; hospital visits; extended office hours; same day/next day appointments; around the clock access directly to Dr. Chawla.

How much is the Annual Fee, and what payment options are available?
The Annual Fee is $1,700 per patient, payable by check on an annual basis.

Do I have to pay a co-pay?
There are no co-pays for services covered under the Annual Fee.  For any office visits beyond those covered under the Annual Fee (the annual physical and 7 additional visits per year), the office will collect a fee of $75.  Home visits are provided when clinically indicated and appropriate.

I already have good health insurance – why should I pay extra to join this practice?
Dr. Chawla’s membership model provides a level of personal service not generally found in a traditional primary care medical practice, including extended hours, direct access to Dr. Chawla by cell phone and email, comprehensive office visits, house calls, and true coordination of your care with specialists and other physicians handled personally by Dr. Chawla.

Do I need to keep my existing health insurance?
This membership model is NOT an insurance plan, and you will need to keep your existing health insurance to cover specialist physician services, laboratory tests, x-ray and other diagnostic services, prescription drugs, and hospitalizations.

Can the annual fee be applied towards my insurance plan deductible?
Because the Annual Fee pays for some services that are not covered by insurance, your insurance plan may not apply the Annual Fee towards your deductible.  Each insurance plan may approach this issue differently, so if you have more specific questions, you should contact your insurance company representative.  Dr. Chawla can provide you with paperwork at the time of your annual physical and office visits that you may submit directly to your insurance for reimbursement.  This does not apply to Medicare and any HMO and different insurers approach this differently, so check with your plan.

I’m covered by Medicare.  Can I still join Dr. Chawla’s new practice?
Yes; however, because Dr. Chawla has opted out of the Medicare program, Medicare will not cover any portion of the Annual Fee or any services provided by Dr. Chawla that are charged separately outside the Annual Fee (e.g., visits exceeding 7 per year).  Dr. Chawla will not submit any claims to Medicare and you may not submit claims to Medicare for payment for any services provided by Dr. Chawla.  Dr. Chawla may continue to write prescriptions and orders for lab, x-ray, and other services needed outside of her practice, and your Medicare coverage will continue to cover all other physicians, hospitals, and labs.  Participation in Dr. Chawla’s practice will not affect your Medicare coverage for these other services in any way.

I’m covered by an HMO.  Can I still join Dr. Chawla’s new practice?
Yes; however, it is important to understand that Dr. Chawla does not participate in any HMOs.  If your HMO requires prior authorization from your primary care physician for referrals and labs, Dr. Chawla will not be able to perform that role.  Also, Dr. Chawla will not submit any claims to your HMO and you may not submit claims to your HMO for payment for any services provided by Dr. Chawla.

I have a Health Spending Account, Flexible Spending Plan, or a Medical Savings Plan through work.  Can I use that to pay for the Annual Fee?
In many cases, you may be able to use such funds to pay for all or a portion of the Annual Fee, but policies differ from plan to plan, so please check with your plan administrator.  By using pre-tax dollars designated for medical expenditures, you may be able to reduce your out-of-pocket expenses.

What if I need to be hospitalized?
You may be hospitalized at the hospital of your choice.  Although the hospitalist service will be the attending physician of record, Dr. Chawla will coordinate care with the hospitalist as your personal physician.  In most instances, Dr. Chawla will visit during your hospitalization, at one of the local hospitals, to help facilitate this process.

What do I do if I need to see a specialist?
Dr. Chawla will coordinate your appointment with the appropriate specialist(s) to best address your particular medical condition.  Dr. Chawla will closely monitor your progress while you are under the specialist’s care.

How can I reach Dr. Chawla after hours and on weekends?
Dr. Chawla will be available by cell phone and email after hours and on weekends (7 a.m. to 9 p.m.), except when away for medical conferences and vacation, in which case the practice will be covered by a colleague without additional charges to you or your insurance company.

May I meet with Dr. Chawla prior to signing a contract to join the practice?
Absolutely.  Please call the office to schedule a meeting to find out if this practice is a good fit for you.

How do I join?
You may start the process by calling the office at (301) 530-6000, to request an enrollment package.  You will need to sign a Physician-Patient Agreement and submit payment of the Annual Fee in order to become a member.  Patients will be accepted in the order in which they join, and once the practice reaches capacity, Dr. Chawla will not accept any additional patients into the practice until an existing spot opens.