Frequently Asked Questions

Got a question about AG? Chances are, other patients have asked us the same questions. Here's a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) about AG and our procedures.

General
Procedures
What to Expect
Insurance
Financial Policy
Billing

General FAQs

  • What is AG?
    Austin Gastroenterology (AG) is an independent group of gastroenterology experts practicing in Central Texas. Together, we diagnose and treat most disorders of the gastrointestinal tract.
  • When was AG founded?
    Austin Gastroenterology, PA was founded on January 1st, 2001. At the time, many of our physicians were already practicing gastroenterology in the Austin area.
  • Where is AG located?
    AG has multiple locations throughout Central Texas, from Georgetown to Kyle, Marble Falls to Bastrop and points in-between.
  • Why do you recommend procedures at the endoscopy center rather than the hospital?
    The endoscopy centers were built for the specific purpose of performing endoscopic procedures. They were designed with efficiency, patient convenience and ease in mind. All of our staff are specifically trained in GI procedures and health management.
  • Do I need a referral to visit AG?
    You may need a referral, depending on your insurance provider and insurance plan. Please contact your insurance provider for details.
  • May I transfer care to another physician in within the AG group?
    While we encourage you to remain with your current AG physician for continuity of care, transfer requests are considered on a case by case basis.
  • Will my primary care provider get a copy of my procedure and/or updates on my care?
    AG physicians provide ongoing updates to any and all primary care and/or referring provider as documented in your medical records.
  • Does AG handle Workers' Compensation claims?
    No, AG does not handle Workman's Compensation claims.
  • What hospitals do AG physicians consult at in the area?
    AG physicians provide coverage at all major hospitals in Austin, Round Rock, Georgetown and many surrounding communities, including Kyle. You may contact your AG physician's office for more information.
  • How long will it take to get an appointment?
    Many of our locations have same day availability and most patients can bee seen within two-to-three days.
  • Do you treat children?
    AG physicians treat patients who are age 17 and above. Children age 16 and younger should be seen by a pediatric gastroenterologist.

Procedure FAQs

  • What procedures do you perform?
    EGD (esophagealgastrodudonoscopy), dilation of the esophagus for strictures (narrowing), screening colonoscopies, and therapeutic (removing polyps) colonoscopies are performed at the endoscopy centers. The physicians perform several other procedures in the hospital. To learn more, visit our conditions page.
  • How soon can I have a procedure performed?
    Most procedures are scheduled within 1-2 weeks of seeing the doctor for your medical history and physical. It may also be sooner that that time period as well.
  • Do I need a screening/consultation before scheduling a colonoscopy?
    Definitely. You will need to see the physician in the office within 30 days of scheduling your procedure appointment. The physician will do a history and physical to assure that you are healthy and have no medical problems that may make it unsafe for you to undergo the procedure.
  • What is the difference between the flexible sigmoidoscopy and the colonoscopy? And which is more accurate?
    The flexible sigmoidoscopy (flex-sig) is a short examination of the lower one-third of the colon, while the colonoscopy examines the entire colon. The flexible sigmoidoscopy usually does not involve sedation. The colonoscopy involves conscious sedation so that the patient will be more comfortable during the procedure. The colonoscopy is more accurate for colon cancer screening. The flexible sigmoidoscopy may miss 25 percent of polyps in the screening population of normal risk patients over 50 years of age.
  • What are some warning signs patients could look for to detect a problem within the colon?
    Warning signs may include abdominal pain, change in bowel habits, rectal bleeding, chronic constipation or diarrhea.
  • Am I entitled to a free colonoscopy, based on Texas Senate Bill 1467?
    You may, depending on your insurance coverage. Senate Bill 1467 is for preventative screening colonoscopies. Some insurances pay 100% of the screening colonoscopy and other only allow $100.00 or so for preventative screening colonoscopy. You will need to contact your insurance company to see what your benefits are.
  • What is a bowel prep and why do I need to do one?
    The most important aspect of the colonoscopy is to be able to see the interior lumen of your colon. It is extremely important to have a "clean" colon. The colon prep is a type of laxative that will cause the colon to empty of all debris so the physician may see all of the tissue within the colon.
  • Can I take pills for a bowel prep?
    Not any longer. There was a prep on the market a few years ago but it was unsafe for many patients, especially those with high blood pressure, kidney disease, etc. AG physicians have decided not to use this prep any longer to assure it will not adversely affect anyone, especially if you have undiagnosed health problems.
  • What will happen if I eat or drink something right before (or a few hours before) my procedure?
    Your procedure may be cancelled. It is dangerous to receive sedation if you have had something to eat or drink before your procedure. It will also cause your bowel prep to be ineffective.
  • Why can't I drive after the procedure?
    The medication that you are given to relax you and relieve any pain during the procedure may cause you to forget events, and may impair your judgment and reflexes. If you attempt to drive it you will be considered "driving under the influence".
  • Can I drink wine or beer during the bowel prep?
    No. The bowel prep may dehydrate you. It is important to drink plenty of water or clear liquids during your bowel prep to remain hydrated.
  • Can I drink wine or beer after the procedure?
    No. This is dangerous since you will have received narcotics and sedatives during your procedure. You must not mix alcohol and these medications.
  • What can I eat after the procedure?
    This will depend on your physician directions but most patients may resume their normal diet. You may be asked to avoid spicy or greasy foods for the next several hours.
  • How long does an EGD take? How long does a colonoscopy take?
    An EGD typically takes 20-30 minutes. A colonoscopy typically takes 30-40 minutes. You will be at the endoscopy center approximately three hours from arrival until discharge.
  • Will I be awake during the procedure? Is it painful?
    You are awake and able to hear and follow commands but you will not feel any pain.
  • What happens if the doctor finds a polyp?
    The physician will remove the polyp and send it to the laboratory for an examination.
  • Why do I need to leave my jewelry at home?
    We do not want you to lose or misplace it. Additionally, it is not allowed if the doctor has to remove a polyp. The physician will use a cautery to assist in the removal of the polyp. This cautery may be dangerous if you keep your metal jewelry on during the procedure.
  • Can my husband, wife, family member or friend come in with me during the procedure and watch?
    No, this is not allowed at our endoscopy centers. The physician will talk with your designated family or friend immediately following the procedure.
  • If I have biopsies taken during my colonoscopy, what happens to my pathology specimen?
    Austin Gastroenterology has its own pathology laboratory which provides pathology services for patients seen at both Austin Endoscopy Centers as well as those patients seen by our physicians at the Oakwood Surgery Center. Austin Gastroenterology Histology Laboratory has a highly skilled laboratory staff and board-certified pathologists who provide high quality pathology results. Having an onsite laboratory facilitates direct communication between our endoscopists and the pathologist. The results of this improved line of communication are better coordination of care for our patients and quick results to the physician. Austin Gastroenterology Histology Laboratory is CLIA certified and contracted with most major insurances.

What to Expect FAQs

  • Can I meet my physician prior to the procedure?
    Yes, you will meet your physician in the office when your medical history and physical is completed.
  • Will the colonoscopy center keep me overnight?
    No, you will not be kept overnight in the endoscopy center.
  • Will I be sedated during the procedure?
    Yes, you will receive pain and sedation medications.
  • What staff can I expect to meet during my procedure?
    You will meet several clinical staff during your visit, including CGRNs (certified gastroenterology registered nurses) and GTSs (gastroenterology technical specialists/Endoscopy technicians). You will also meet the front office staff that will check you in and assist you with completion of all needed paperwork. All of our staff have additional training that is GI specific, as well as ACLS (advanced cardiac life support) and BLS (basic life support).
  • Should I bring a family member or friend to my procedure?
    You will definitely need to bring someone with you to the Center. If you give permission, the doctor will discuss what they found during the procedure with the responsible adult/family/relative/spouse, since you will not remember what you are told due to the medications you received during the procedure. Additionally, you will not be allowed to drive or take a taxi home without a responsible adult with you.
  • How soon will I receive the results of my procedure?
    The physician will verbally tell you what was found during the procedure. If any polyps are removed and sent to the laboratory for examination, you will receive that information within 5-7 days following your procedure.
  • How much does an EGD or colonoscopy cost at the Endoscopy center versus having it done at the hospital?
    The Endoscopy Center accepts most major insurance coverage plans. If you have a screening colonoscopy and no polyps are removed, the fee for the facility will be approximately $1500 versus approximately $2750 - $3,000 at a hospital. All of these charges are based on the individual having the procedure. Charges will be discussed with the billing department prior to scheduling a procedure. You will learn exactly what you will need to pay, what your insurance is paying, and if any additional fees may apply prior to your procedure.

Insurance FAQs

  • What insurance carriers do you accept?
    • Aetna
    • ARIA/Physicians Health Choice
    • BCBS Par Plan
    • BCBS PPO
    • BCBS HMO Blue
    • Cigna PPO
    • Cigna HMO
    • First Health
    • Great West
    • HealthSmart
    • Humana ChoiceCare
    • Humana PPO
    • Humana HMO
    • PHCS
    • Seton Health Plan
    • Seton Physician Health Network
      1. UniCare
      2. Texas True Choice
      3. MultiPlan
      4. MEGA Life
      5. Health Payors
      6. Galaxy
      7. Accountable
      8. Beech Street
    • UnitedHealthcare
    • Traditional Medicare
    • Traditional Medicaid
    This listing may not include all plans Austin Gastroenterology accepts. Please contact an AG office if your plan is not listed.
  • I don't have insurance. Can I still visit AG?
    Yes.
  • I have Medicare. How do I prove that my procedure is a medical necessity?
    Your physician will order tests that he/she feels are medically necessary depending upon your symptoms or previous diagnosis. Should any of these tests be considered not medically necessary, you will be asked to review our Advanced Beneficiary Notice explaining the services ordered, the cost of the services and the reason why Medicare may not consider these medically necessary. Should you choose to proceed with the treatment, you will sign the Notice accepting financial liability for those tests/services.
  • Can you help me negotiate with my insurance company?
    Should a claim for services be denied, we will assist you in working with your health plan.
  • What is co-insurance?
    Co-insurance is the percentage that you are responsible for according to your health plan. For example, your insurance covers 70 percent of the allowable fee for a specific service. You are responsible for the remaining 30 percent. This is called co-insurance. Co-insurance is not a co-payment.
  • What can I expect to pay out of pocket?
    There are many variables to this question depending upon the services provided. You will be provided with a co-insurance estimate prior to services being rendered.
  • My insurance covers screening colonoscopies. Does this coverage include biopsies? Monitored anesthesia care (MAC)?
    Each health plan varies in regards to coverage of colon cancer screenings.
    • Some health plans pay 100 percent for AVERAGE RISK colonoscopies. Average risk means that you have no personal or family history of colon cancer or colon polyps. If you do have a personal history or family history of colon cancer or colon polyps, you are considered as being HIGH RISK, which some health plans do NOT cover at 100 percent. These services will be applicable to deductibles and coinsurances.
    • Bx: Biopsies are considered a lab service. Please check your benefits package to find how these services will be covered.
    • MAC: This is dependent upon your ASA classification. If you are a three or higher, your insurance will most likely cover this service. Please check with your health plan.
  • Do you accept Medicaid?
    Yes, traditional only.

Financial Policy FAQs

  • What is AG's financial policy?
    As a courtesy, AG will file health insurance claims to your health plan. You will be financially responsible for satisfying deductibles, co-payments and co-insurances.
  • My insurance carrier is requesting a referral. How do I obtain one?
    You must first see your primary care provider for your illness. If your PCP feels it appropriate, his/her office will contact your health plan to order a referral. This referral must be on file with our office by the day of your visit. If not, you will be financially responsible for services provided during that particular visit.
  • I'd like to work out a payment plan with AG. What should I know?
    It is the patient's responsibility to remit payment at the time of service. We understand that from time to time circumstances can arise that create a hardship. Please speak with a manager BEFORE your clinic visit or procedure if you will be unable to pay your balance in full on the day of your appointment.
  • Who is responsible to get an estimate from my insurance carrier for my procedure?
    Our offices will contact your health plan to obtain this information. Please be advised that this information can change on a daily basis, dependent upon any other health claims that have been processed on your behalf from other healthcare providers. We provide this information as an estimate only.

Billing FAQs

  • How long do I have to pay my bill?
    Once your insurance carrier has sent in payment for your visit or procedure, any balances owed will be billed to you. Payment is due upon receipt.
  • Does AG have an online billing option?
    Yes. You can view your account information, download bills and make payments online. Click here to safely and securely make AG bill payments online.
  • I'm having trouble understanding my bill. Where can I get help?
    • For AG, please contact our administrative office at (512) 420-0186. Leave your name, account number and a phone number you can be reached at during office hours.
    • For endoscopy procedures, please contact our administrative office at (512) 420-0186. Leave your name, account number and a phone number you can be reached at during office hours.
    • For questions regarding your co-insurance estimate, please contact the office that provided you with the estimate.