If your health insurance provider is a PPO, chances are you’ve experienced the murky world of medical billing. Even if patients do their homework and make sure the hospital they’re going to is in-network and the procedure is covered, an out-of-network specialist might be called in at the last minute, resulting in an expectedly high health care bill.
That’s why Sen. Lieu (D- Torrance) is calling for more transparency in medical billing. On Monday, Lieu introduced SB 1373, which would require medical providers and hospitals to disclose treatment costs associated with health care services and procedures, in hopes of avoiding sticker shock by patients after the fact. According to Lieu’s office, the bill was written in response to an investigative report that found a number of patients were being billed for services they didn’t consent to and sometimes for services or providers that weren’t covered under their medical insurance.
Currently, hospitals are required to give patients an estimate of charges if they’re asked, but don’t have to factor in the cost of medical professionals that contract with the hospital. That means anesthesiologists and all doctors. The patient is left with a whopping medical bill and absolutely no recourse to fight the charges.
Would Lieu’s bill help? Or is implementation too unrealistic?
Ted Lieu, California State Senator, representing Senate District 28, which includes the cities of Carson, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach and Torrance, as well as portions of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
Shana Alex Lavarreda, Director of Health Insurance Studies, UCLA Center for Health Policy Research