Went to the ER? You may be hit with a surprise medical bill

News

ATLANTA, Ga. (CNN) – (6/20/19) Unexpected medical bills are one of Americans’ top health care headaches.

And it’s easy to see why: Roughly 1 in every 6 emergency room or in-hospital stays generated at least one out-of-network medical bill in 2017, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis of claims data from large-employer plans published Thursday. That leaves patients at risk of receiving hefty surprise medical bills.

Two-thirds of Americans say they are “very worried” or “somewhat worried” about being able to afford unexpected medical bills, a previous Kaiser poll has shown. And more than three-quarters want the federal government to address surprise medical bills, though they are divided over whether insurers or providers should cover the cost.

Lawmakers — as well as President Donald Trump — have responded. At least threebipartisan bills have been introduced in Congress in recent weeks that would shield patients if they are unknowingly treated by out-of-network providers, often in an emergency situation.

The Senate Health Committee is scheduled to vote next week on legislation that mandates that patients pay only their in-network rates for out-of-network emergency care and for certain out-of-network services done at in-network facilities. It calls for insurers to pay doctors and hospitals the local median contracted rate.

More than a dozen states have enacted laws that address surprise billing in insurance plans regulated at the state level. But those protections often don’t extend to people enrolled in large-employer plans, many of which are regulated on a federal level. That’s why Congress has to step in.

The likelihood of these folks getting out-of-network bills varies widely by state. Some 38% of ER visits in Texas resulted in at least one of these charges, as did more than a quarter of trips in New Mexico, New York and California, according to the Kaiser analysis. But the rate was under 5% in Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Alabama.

Most of the out-of-network bills came from doctors or other medical professionals, rather than hospitals or emergency facilities.

Stay up to date with the latest news by downloading the KTVE/KARD News App from the App Store or Google Play.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Don't Miss

Don't Miss

Trending Stories