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Surprise! Sticker shock on medical bills

March 08. 2018 8:23PM

When was the last time you read every line on your utility bill? Or your cable bill?

Even those Byzantine documents seem simple compared to a bill from a hospital.

Heath care pricing is broken. Unlike in almost any other industry, patients are rarely given the cost of medical options when they make medical decisions. Someone else, either an insurance company or the federal government, is paying.

It is even more frustrating when a patient takes the time to navigate the maze of medical pricing, only to be hit with a surprise charge because a medical procedure was “out of network.”

The New Hampshire House this week passed House Bill 1809, which would hold patients harmless for these surprise charges. Health care providers and insurance companies would figure out the difference.

This is a small reform that will benefit patients who try to stay in their insurance company’s provider network. It will not solve the problems in health care pricing inherent when third parties pick up the tab.

Patients should know how much the options they are presented will cost, even if they will not pay for them directly. More expensive health care does not always lead to better outcomes. Tort reform would help remove doctors’ incentives to recommend unnecessary treatment.

But every step we can take to better link patients and prices is a good one.

Health Editorial

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