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Letter: COVID-19 has brought enough surprises. Medical bills shouldn’t be one of them

SHARE Letter: COVID-19 has brought enough surprises. Medical bills shouldn’t be one of them

Kawee - stock.adobe.com

As we’ve seen in the COVID-19 pandemic, timing can be everything in lifesaving medical care. Patients need the certainty that health care professionals will be there and the closest health care facility will be able to provide them the best of treatment. No front-line medical professional wants people to avoid getting the potentially lifesaving care they need.

Surprise medical bills are becoming an all too common experience, especially in emergencies, where insurance companies can classify front-line medical workers and facilities as “out-of-network.” During this pandemic, big health insurance companies have been reaping massive profits while shelling out millions to lobby Congress to pass “rate setting” legislation — allowing insurance companies to reimburse physicians, emergency providers and hospitals at below-market rates and putting patients in the middle of billing disputes. If medical professionals and providers don’t acquiesce to insurance company mandates, they risk getting kicked out of network, further reducing the choice and access to the health care professionals they need. Rate setting was misguided before COVID-19, and it’s disastrous now.

Luckily there is a better way. Independent Dispute Resolution establishes an independent third-party mediator to resolve billing disputes between insurance companies and medical providers, keeping patients out of the middle and not stuck with financially devastating bills for the medical care they needed.

In these challenging times, the last thing patients should have to worry about is whether they’ll be shocked with a bill from insurance companies they can’t afford for health care they can’t do without.

Davey Harrison