Health insurance providers and businesses unite in objections to surprise billing

Nine healthcare organizations, including consumers, businesses and insurance providers, have united to find a solution to the practice of surprise billing that can burden patients with sky-high medical debts.

Surprise billing has become an attention-grabbing news story over the past several years as some patients receive bills for thousands of dollars––and in one case, about $100,000––after discharge from a hospital visit. The issue has led lawmakers to pursue legislation to limit the practice.

Together, the participating organizations have agreed to a set of principles to better protect patients from surprise medical bills.

The groups involved include:

  • America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP)
  • American Benefits Council
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
  • Consumers Union
  • The ERISA Industry Committee
  • Families USA
  • National Association of Health Underwriters
  • National Business Group on Health
  • National Retail Federation

When providers are not participating in a network, they can wrongly charge patients whatever rates they like, the groups contend.

“The consequence is millions of consumers receiving surprise, unexpected medical bills that can often break the bank,” the organizations wrote.

The principles specifically support federal legislation to protect patients from surprise billing; allowing patients to be informed when their care is out of network and how much it will cost; restraining costs and ensuring quality networks through policies that protect consumers and do not increase other costs, such as premiums; and base out-of-network costs on a federal standard.

“Surprise medical bills undermine the health and financial stability of the patients and consumers we serve,” Matt Eyles, president and CEO of AHIP, said in a statement. “By agreeing to these guiding principles, we are showing our commitment to protect hardworking American families from these unexpected costs. Together, we can make a real difference in improving health care affordability and access for everyone.”

See the full principles here.