I recently read the following article.
It’s about a bill passed in both CA and NY called “Surprise Bills Laws”. They require certain health providers to explain the costs associated with your care prior to administering such care. Amazing concept?!?! You mean a business is required to tell you how much things cost before providing a good or service??? What an idea! … You can hear the sarcasm echoing off the page.
It has always amazed me that healthcare providers put the burden on the customer to gather information about the cost of the service provided. Imagine if we applied this concept to, let’s say a restaurant. You order a water and a salad. Your husband orders water and soup. You are not allowed to inquire about the cost of the food. When your bill arrives, you expect a $20 tab. Instead you receive a $100 bill. Because the generic mushrooms in the soup and salad were out of stock in the kitchen so they opted to use truffles instead – but they don’t tell you that before ordering. So pay up and make sure you leave a 20% tip.
Five years ago, I delivered a baby and the doctors office had me meet with someone from their office to explain how my insurance worked, what it would and would not pay for, how much they and the hospital charged for such services that may or may not be necessary, how my deductible and co-insurance worked, and gave me an estimate of the out of pocket costs associated with having a baby. They also provided a payment plan so that I could pay for those costs while working instead of sending me a giant bill after I was home on unpaid maternity leave.
Seven months ago I had another baby at a different hospital. I had the same “preadmission” appointment. Only this time, I was told, “Here’s the number for your customer service line for your insurance company. It’s your responsibility to discuss the costs of your care with them.” SERIOUSLY? Because a layperson knows what medications are available and different procedures that can be used, when they are needed or not, and what tests are voluntary or not. How about the healthcare industry takes some responsibility for the skyrocketing costs of their services and do everybody a favor: educate the consumer about what they are buying so that they don’t purchase something for which they can’t pay?