INDIANAPOLIS – Getting blindsided by a bill from a doctor you thought was in-network can cost you hundreds of dollars. Legislators are working on a bill to prevent that.
About one in 14 trips to the emergency room results in a “surprise” bill, where you’re charged more than you expected because some of the specialists who treat you aren’t part of your network, even though the hospital is. That’s a third of the national average, but if it happens to you, the Indiana Department of Insurance says it can inflate your bill by as much as 25-hundred dollars.
Indiana Hospital Association president Brian Tabor says hospitals should be able to work that out with their contractors ahead of time. Some hospital groups, including Community Health Network and I-U Health, have established policies to prevent surprise bills. But legislators are working on what economist Brian Blaze calls a “truth in advertising” law to outlaw surprise bills statewide.
There’s broad agreement on the basic idea, but while both the House and Senate held hearings on their proposals Wednesday, a final vote will be delayed while legislators try to iron out details. A simple declaration that every provider in a hospital would receive the in-network rate means out-of-network services end up with prices they were never part of negotiating. And business groups joined the hospital association in warning against the idea of resolving those charges through arbitration. They maintain that would drive up costs across the board.