Surprise Medical Billing Gets Increased Industry Attention

February 2019 ~

Last month during a roundtable at the White House, the President spoke out against surprise medical bills and instructed administration officials to investigate how to prevent surprise bills, broadening his focus on drug prices to include other issues of price transparency in health care.

In August 2018, the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago interviewed 1,002 respondents age 18 and over about surprise medical bills. In their report, NORC notes that of those surveyed, 57% (567 individuals) acknowledged receiving a surprise medical bill they thought would be covered by their health insurance.

Surprise billing has received a flood of attention in the past year, leading many states to discuss legislation to address the practice and offer cost protections for patients. Senators Maggie Hassan (NH) and Bill Cassidy (LA) have both released bills to end surprise charges, and recently, the American College of Emergency Physicians announced its own six-point plan (pdf) on how to tackle the issue.

Additionally, CMS included a Request for Information related to surprise billing and price transparency in their “Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Medicare Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) and Long Term Acute Care Hospital (LTCH) Prospective Payment System Proposed Rule.”

During his speech, the President spoke of patients who “go in, they have a procedure, and then all of a sudden they can’t afford it, they had no idea it was so bad.” He stated that his vision is for patients to know “exactly what the cost is” before they receive care.

“We’re here today …to discuss how the healthcare system too often harms people with unfair surprises. They have some really — surprises in a very negative sense: medical bills and the like,” he said. “The pricing is hurting patients, and we’ve stopped a lot of it, and we’re going to stop all of it. It is very important to me.”

The President went on to say that “The health care system too often harms people with some unfair surprises … medical bills and the like,” adding, “We’re going to stop all of it, and it’s very important to me.”

Source(s): Modern Healthcare; NPR; KHN Morning Briefing; The Hill; Kaiser Health News;