Dermatology is a popular medical specialty that serves millions of Americans of all ages and economic classes. As such, it's extremely lucrative for the doctors who practice it. Most dermatologists have weeks-long appointment backlogs and may cram 15 or more patients into a typical weekday. Since most consultations take less than an hour to complete and require regular follow-ups, these doctors are virtually guaranteed to have a steady stream of clients lined up in their waiting rooms.
Unfortunately, this arrangement may not be ideal for the patients involved. After waiting for weeks to secure an appointment and enduring an uncomfortable stretch of time in a crowded waiting room, a typical dermatology patient might enjoy 15 to 30 minutes of face time with the practicing doctor and leave with a large bill.
If you're worried about the cost of visiting your dermatologist, you'll need to do some preliminary research before booking an appointment. If you lack health insurance, the cost of your visit will vary according to several factors.
Chief among these is location: Dermatologists adjust their rates according to the number of competing doctors in their practice areas as well as the purchasing power of their clientele. General living costs and economic conditions may also affect the cost of a visit to the dermatologist in a given area. In general, dermatologists who practice in larger cities or remote regions popular with retirees and vacationers charge more than dermatologists based in small rural towns or medium-sized industrial cities. A dermatologist from New York or Aspen is likely to be more expensive than a dermatologist from Peoria or rural Oklahoma.
A dermatologist may also set his or her rate according to his or her reputation and sub-specialty. Respected dermatologists who specialize in rare skin disorders and receive dozens of referrals per month may charge more than "normal" acne specialists.
The going rate for a "cheaper" dermatologist is typically between $100 and $170 per visit. An "expensive" dermatologist might charge upwards of $200. If you're unsatisfied with the cost of your visit, talk to your dermatologist's bookkeeper and ask how to secure a reduced rate on your next appointment. Most practices are happy to oblige this request. In fact, you'll often be able to receive the lower "insurance-only" rate for an office visit simply by asking for it. Of course, any special tests, samples or procedures might dramatically increase the cost of your visit.