Across the country, people are frequently hit by surprise medical bills. It’s sadly a common tale that people go in for medical care, thinking that all the people who are caring for them are in-network for their provider, then they get the bill and that doctor or specialist was out-of-network and you are caught paying a new bill out of pocket you were never prepared for! This frequently happens in emergencies when you don’t have time or might not even be conscious to be able to decide who is giving you care. These bills can be up to nearly 1400% higher than if the provider was in-network. This puts insured adults on the hook to pay huge fees they never expected and could struggle to afford.
In these times, when people are at greater risk for facing a medical emergency, many are also at greater risk of facing economic hardships. Even before Covid-19, medical bills were a top factor in American’s filing for bankruptcy. Now, people could become seriously ill and need to be seen – but as they are hopefully getting better, is their financial situation worsening without their knowledge because they are receiving out of network care?
Americans need comprehensive protection from surprise balance bills. Patients deserve transparency in billing so they can be secure about who is providing them care and what it will cost. Timely, actionable, and easy to understand information should be provided to patients and they should have the power to dispute the bills while being held harmless. When people are facing a health concern, they shouldn’t have the additional burden of a medical bill that was unexpected and unavoidable. Now more than ever, we need to support people through their health and financial challenges. Addressing surprise billing will help protect people when they need it most.