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Lawmakers Seek to Outlaw Practice of Surprise Medical Billing

Surprise Medical Billing

Medical bills are one of the most common reasons that petitioners cite for their bankruptcy filings. Exorbitant medical expenses can be especially difficult to afford, since those with high costs are also frequently out of work and struggling to cover even regular living expenses. One source of exorbitant medical bills is the phenomenon of surprise medical billing. Learn more about this practice, and what is being done to stop it, below.

You would probably assume that, if you were to visit an emergency room at a hospital that is in your health insurance carrier’s network, you would not pay any out-of-network fees for medical care received during that visit. However, you could be wrong. Patients can be charged out-of-network fees for their in-network hospital visit if the doctors working in the ER are not members of the insurer’s network. In this way, patients who deliberately chose a hospital in their network may receive bills that include steep out-of-network charges, reaching into the thousands of dollars, after their treatment is complete.

Several states have enacted laws that make these surprise medical bills illegal—namely, California, New York, Florida, Connecticut, and Illinois. However, there is no federal law banning the practice. At least, not yet. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida recently requested that the Federal Trade Commission investigate the practice of issuing surprise medical bills and whether surprise medical bills should be considered unfair or deceptive. This is especially critical at a time when more and more insurers are refusing to cover out-of-network costs, and as health care providers are either choosing to enter contracts with fewer health insurers or are declining to accept health insurance altogether. According to a study conducted by Yale University on the nationwide impact of surprise medical billing, nearly 20% of all emergency room patients received a bill from one or more out-of-network doctors after their stay. This problem is even more pronounced in certain areas of the country, with 89% of all ER patients in one area of Texas incurring surprise medical bills, and 62% of patients in St. Petersburg, Florida finding unexpected out-of-network charges on their hospital bills.

If you are facing a seemingly-insurmountable quantity of consumer debt in Maryland, such as medical bills or credit card debt, seek legal help to find your way out and back to financial health, and contact the compassionate and experienced Germantown bankruptcy and consumer law firm Haeger Law for a consultation, at 888-463-3520.