Congress Double Downs On Surprises Medical Bills; Falls Short On Covering Ambulance Trips
Surprise medical bills are so common that according to a report by the New York Times from mid-December last year, academic researchers all over the United States agree that one in five patients who visit the Emergency room for medical attention will receive a surprise medical bill or two that can range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands.
In fact, it is known that millions of everyday average Americans receive these types of bills, which add more strain to their path to recovery.
Some end up with piles of debt, while others, in the worst-case scenario, file for bankruptcy and suffer from financial ruin because of their ailment.
For a quick recap, patients receive surprise medical bills if they end up receiving medical attention from personnel and/or medical tools and treatment from an entity that is not covered by their health insurance plan.
If you get treatment from an In-Network Provider (a hospital or medical professional covered by your health insurance plan), your insurer will cover it, and the chances are that you will not be able to receive any bills at all.
However, if you receive treatment from an Out-Of-Network Provider (not covered by your insurer), you will most likely receive a surprise medical bill.
Some of them are small amounts because negotiations happen behind the curtains between your health insurer and the healthcare provider.
However, there are instances when insurers refuse to pay up, and thus you are left with a surprise medical bill that can run you thousands of dollars out-of-pocket.
Thankfully, Congress has finally decided to address these concerns that have hounded countless Americans each year.
Alongside the passage of rescue packages for the nation’s COVID-19 response, lawmakers have passed legislation known as the No Surprises Act, which essentially bans surprise medical bills.
Tucked underneath this historic bill are provisions aimed to help and empower patients and their right to health.
Sections and policies were detailed to make sure that in the case of surprise medical bills, institutions are set up to properly address claims that lessens the emotional stress and burden a patient undergoes after receiving much-needed medical attention.
Yet, according to a report, the No Surprises Act fell short and has missed one of the most crucial sources of surprise medical bills in the healthcare industry – ground ambulances.
Ground ambulances are a part of an industry that is hard to regulate due to their sheer size and complexity, analysts agree, leading to why Congress chose not to include them in the act.
And it is very true; ambulances come in different forms and are a part of different institutions.
Local governments own some, and some are from for-profit companies.
And as the number of private firms moving into the healthcare sector grows each year, more and more companies have the stakes in this talking point.
Additionally, they are positioned in a manner that they hold the advantage in providing their services.
Because most medical providers need to ask for transportation requirements from patients, ground ambulances can sweep right in to provide their services altogether.
Though representatives from the ground ambulance industry have clapped back from reports stating that most medical providers refuse to work with them under contract, keeping ambulance facilities and competent personnel to operate them 24/7 throughout the year is very costly, ergo the hefty price tag that comes with their services.
Nevertheless, they assure that they are open to working with medical insurers nationwide to negotiate their rates, but until Congress acts on the matter, patients will continue receiving surprise medical bills concerning mainly services provided by ground medical ambulances.
Countless stories are already told regarding this matter. Some got billed hundreds of dollars for a ten-minute ride.
If you or a friend and family of yours have had an experience similar to them, reach out to us through our official communication channels below.
Editor’s Note on Ambulance Surprise Medical Bills:
This feature is published to inform you of how ground ambulances can be a tricky source of surprise medical bills to a patient receiving medical treatment.
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