The last thing anyone wants to get in the mail when recovering from a serious medical issue is an unexpected invoice for thousands of dollars. Surprise medical billing impacts millions of patients across the country, causing additional stress and hardship in an already complicated situation.
Surprise billing, however, is a major obstacle to this goal for many patients. We receive frequent complaints from patients who are outraged by unfair and unaffordable surprise bills.
A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that nearly 40 percent of non-elderly adults who have health insurance have received an unexpected medical bill in the last 12 months. Another Kaiser survey found that more than three-quarters of Americans support the federal government taking action to protect patients from surprise medical bills.
Patients often receive surprise medical bills when they are still at home recovering from serious medical treatment. Health insurance is complicated and it’s easy for patients to assume their insurance company covers the cost of the care that they received, especially if it was at an in-network hospital. So, it’s a surprise when these bills arrive and patients learn care they thought was covered isn’t, creating stress and serious financial hardship for families during a difficult time.
No one needs that kind of surprise. That’s one reason Congress should act to find a proactive solution to surprise medical billing that preserves patients’ access to quality care and protects them from surprise bills from an out-of-network provider that their insurance did not cover.
Patients should be protected from unexpected personal out-of-network cost sharing due to gaps in health benefit plans and should have easy access to accurate and transparent information about pricing and provider networks. No one who recently received medical care should find himself or herself stuck in the middle of out-of-network billing disputes between their insurance company and health-care provider.
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