Back in the 80’s I worked for a medical group in Seattle that had nine highly respected orthopedic surgeons. They appeared to have a bit more clout than perhaps the average doctor’s office based on the charity work they did. It was normal to see the pro athletes come in pretty regularly.
I mention that because I’m not sure if the phenomena of “professional courtesy” extended to employees of that clinic was typical of others.
When I had a raging ear infection the nurse in charge made a phone call and I walked across the street and saw a great specialist within the hour. What my insurance didn’t pay was written off to “professional courtesy”.
My young daughter had troubles with her ears as well and this doctor ended up doing surgery on her. Again, absolutely no cost to me out of pocket.
I was in a car accident around then that resulted in an avulsion fracture of a neck vertebrae. The doctors there wouldn’t treat me but they all did come sit around the break table and go over the x-rays, and treatment plan. I was a little bothered that they all didn’t agree on the course of action. Three of the back and neck specialists had at one time been taught by or worked with an older doctor at another office and sent me to him. He ended up doing a surgical procedure that was again, no out of pocket charge to me.
My grown up daughter now lives with me following a bad accident that caused a brain injury. I am her full-time 24/7 caregiver. The bills have been astronomical and she’s had to declare bankruptcy.
If I could, I’d go to work at a neurologists office or for Scripps in a second. Even if there isn’t a “professional courtesy discount”, access to doctors who don’t want to look bad is much better.