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wwltv.com | BuyER Beware: Patients fight surprise medical bills
“I call Ochsner; Ochsner says that's not from us,” Ricks said. “That's from another doctor's group. I said, 'Explain.' She said, 'Well, just because you were in Ochsner's emergency room, which is in my network, doesn't mean that the doctors are employees of Ochsner. Some of them are contract labor.” ...
A year ago, Lisa Ricks was rushed to Ochsner’s West Bank emergency room after accidentally stabbing herself in the eye with the end of a metal broomstick.

It was extremely painful, but she got expert care at her in-network hospital, paid a $200 copay and was back out at parades in time to enjoy Mardi Gras 2016. The eye patch she had to wear almost fit in with the zany Carnival costumes and soon her vision was back to normal.

She wasn’t blinded, but about nine months later, she was blindsided – by a $585 doctor’s bill.

“I call Ochsner; Ochsner says that's not from us,” Ricks said. “That's from another doctor's group. I said, 'Explain.' She said, 'Well, just because you were in Ochsner's emergency room, which is in my network, doesn't mean that the doctors are employees of Ochsner. Some of them are contract labor.”

Ricks sells supplemental medical insurance, so she knows the process. But she wasn’t prepared for something called “balance billing,” charges for uncovered services at in-network medical facilities. It’s a problem that’s getting more attention as more people with private insurance go on high-deductible health plans, forcing them to confront billing issues that used to be handled behind the scenes by insurance.

A recent survey by Yale University researchers published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that a whopping 22 percent of in-network hospital visits include some sort of out-of-network charge. Often, those bills come from independent physicians’ groups that provide anesthesiologists or other specialists to hospitals on a contract basis, to supplement in-house staff at emergency departments.

Illinois, Colorado, Texas, New York and Florida have managed to rein in this type of balance billing
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5 weeks ago by maoxian
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