Senator Sherrod Brown has proposed legislation to prevent a practice known as “surprise billing.” That's when patients are faced with costly medical bills after unintentionally receiving care from a hospital not included in their insurance coverage.
During a medical emergency, the last thing on a patient's mind is if they're headed to a hospital that's in-network, and therefore covered by their health insurance. Other patients might be surprised to find that at an in-network hospital, a contracted emergency room doctor or anesthesiologist could be out of their network.
A recent study by the New England Journal of Medicine found that, under a large national insurer, patients received surprise billing 22 percent of the time. The average bill cost $900, but some were as high as $19,000.
According to the study, only about 10 percent of patients receive these surprise bills.
Senator Brown's bills would require that the cost for emergency care not exceed a patient's in-network rate. Hospitals would also have to be more transparent about any out-of-network services.