Why Surprise Billing Still Exists

A piece of good news: —Doubletree Reveals Cookie Recipe

This blog does not receive any sponsorships.  That being said, my wife made a batch of these cookies and they are delicious!  My advice is to freeze half the batch and cook some later to avoid overconsumption.

A recent commentary (ECF Brown. NEJM 2020; 382: 1189-91) helps explain why surprise billing still exists despite bipartisan contempt.

Key points:

  • “An estimated 20% of U.S. emergency-department visits, 9% of inpatient admissions, and more than half of ambulance or air-ambulance transports involve an out-of-network provider.”
  • “Surprise medical billing…is more prevalent …in groups owned by certain private-equity investment companies.”
  • There are generally two approaches to solving the problem of surprise medical billing, either arbitration or using a payment benchmark, the former generally favors providers and the latter generally favors payers.
  • “Deep-pocketed private equity firms continue to oppose any legislation that cuts into their profits, as they increase their investments in physician practices…Nearly everyone else agrees that patients should be protected from surprise medical bills.”

My take (borrowed from the author): The outcome of the surprise medical billing issue “raises questions about both the role of private equity in health care and the ability of Congress to pass meaningful health care legislation.”

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