In recent months, surprise medical billing has garnered increased attention from lawmakers and the news media. Surprise medical billing may arise when a patient visits an in-network facility and receives care from out-of-network physicians. The “surprise” can occur when a patient confirms a hospital is covered by their insurance and later finds out that the physicians providing care are out-of-network providers. A recent Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) analysis found that out-of-network billing is becoming more common and potentially more costly in both the emergency department and inpatient settings.
As reported by The Hill, outrageous charges and surprise medical bills have exploded because physicians’ groups can opt out of a contract with insurers even if the hospital has such a contract – leaving doctors free to charge patients however much they want. Even some insurance companies are the cause of out-of-network disputes when they decline to contract with a physician group.
Billing disputes are extremely stressful and unpleasant for patients and can negatively impact a patient’s relationship with care providers. National policymakers have stepped in to introduce legislation to protect patients and resolve out-of-network disputes.
OBHG’s perspective on surprise medical billing
At a time when many organizations are looking to take advantage of patients to increase their bottom line, OBHG has remained true to its core mission of focusing on patients and outcomes. OBHG has never had any intent or interest in pursuing an out-of-network or “surprise billing” strategy.
In fact, OBHG has an established process of working with every hospital partner’s insurers to become an in-network provider. In the limited instances that OBHG patients are not insured by a plan OBHG contracts with, there are policies in place to ease the patient’s financial burden. For example, patients are offered significant discounts to minimize the impact and bring bills in-line with that of an in-network provider.
OBHG’s top priority has and always will be on patients. We don’t want our patients, who are pregnant women or new moms, to have to worry about a surprise medical bill. Many of our patients come to us at the time of emergency, or at a vulnerable time in their life. Our mission is to work closely with our hospital partners to keep the interests of our patients front and center.