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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 18, 2007 / 2 Tamuz, 5767

Hidden Consultation

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir


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Is a patient obliged to pay for any service the provider decides is needed without any need to consult the patient?


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: I went to a chiropractor for routine treatment, but when I got the bill I saw he also charged me separately for a consultation! He never told me that he was providing a "consultation" or that I would be billed for his advice. What should I do?


A: In English, the legal term for benefiting from a service without paying for it is "unjust enrichment". But as your letter reminds us, sometimes we suspect that the enrichment of the service provider is equally unjust.


Fundamentally, the obligation to pay a worker in Jewish law stems from the service provided, and not from the agreement to pay. The Talmud tells us that if a worker enters someone's field even without permission and plants it, the worker is entitled to payment for his efforts. (1)


However, this obligation is obviously subject to certain restrictions. A field owner is not at the mercy of his town's field hands, obliged to provide work and pay for any idle hand who wants to trespass and work on his own initiative. Likewise, a patient is not at the mercy of a treatment provider, obliged to pay for any service the provider decides is needed without any need to consult the patient.


The basic rule established by the Talmudic passage is as follows: If the work done is one that the owner routinely carries out and would certainly have paid for himself, then the worker is paid according to the standard rate. Otherwise, the field owner, who is the unwitting employer, gets the benefit of the doubt. If he has a credible claim that he didn't intend to plant this particular field with this particular crop, or a like claim for any other kind of work (for example, didn't plan to build a particular structure), then his obligation is according to an assessment of how much this service is worth to him.


We could apply this principal to your situation as follows:


First, contact the chiropractor and ask politely him to explain exactly what consultation was provided, why it was needed, and why you weren't informed you would be charged for it.


Chances are good that this discussion will itself resolve the problem. The chiropractor may be convinced that you were not adequately informed of the treatment he was providing, and agree to remove or reduce the fee; he may even realize that there is an ordinary billing error. Or you may be convinced that enough information was provided that you should reasonably have inferred that you were obtaining an additional, billable service.


If the difference of opinion persists after your discussion, you should offer to pay whatever you would have agreed to pay for such a "consultation" if you had understood that one was needed and was being provided. The service provider may agree to your compromise, or offer another; if he insists on his position, it is his right to try to enforce it by referring the issue to arbitration, mediation or even legal action.


I recognize that misunderstandings of this kind are common; probably the chiropractor meant to mention that the consultation was a separate service or assumed that you recognized that it was. But precisely because this phenomenon is common, I believe that service providers should be pro-active in preventing it. I advocate explicit "truth in billing" policies stating that customers will not be charged for any service unless they have been notified in advance what service is being provided and how much it will cost (or alternatively exactly why a precise estimate is impractical).

SOURCE: (1) Babylonian Talmud, Bava Metzia 101a

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JWR contributor Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, formerly of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration, is Research Director of the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, Jerusalem College of Technology. To comment or pose a question, please click here.

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