Thursday, June 11, 2015

Beware of "Hidden" Medical Expense

Before surgery, many patients mindlessly sign consent forms upon consent forms. As we have seen time and time again, when patients are in need of surgery, many are not in a good position to bargain or "shop around." This vulnerability, however, makes such patients susceptible to surprise medical fees. In an article posted by The New York Times entitled "Paying Till It Hurts: Surprise Bills," author Elisabeth Rosenthal describes an instance where a patient was blind sighted by a bill from an "assistant surgeon" that held an $117,000 fee - whom he never met before. This increasingly common practice, which many are now calling "drive-by doctoring," has taken services that were once included in the daily hospital rate and are now providing such work to be done by contractors and out-of-network physicians who bill separately. These fees can include those that come out of unnecessary tests, adding more physicians or "assistants" than needed, and surgeons from other specialties teaming up for a consult. These surprise charges involve out-of-network providers who bill 20 to 40 times the usual local rates and often collect the full amount, or a substantial portion of it. Therefore, next time you or your loved one find themselves in need of medical care, be careful when consenting to the forms that are thrown in front of you.

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