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Patients Clueless About Insurance Coverage

Not long ago, I blogged about a plastic surgeon who aggressively pursues patients who refuse to pay her bills. The state is suing her to make her stop and also considering lifting her medical license. You may want to take a look at that post to get the details, but the central theme is that she makes her ED patients sign a form stating that they will pay her, although it is unlikely that the patients are aware of the amount of the fee upfront. Then she won’t accept what insurance considers a reasonable reimbursement and goes after the patients with lawsuits and liens on their houses, ignoring the fact that balance billing of emergency department patients is illegal in her state. A number of doctors have defended the surgeon. Many have said that the patient should have asked what her fee would be. In my experience, that is rare. I’ve been a surgeon for four decades, and I can’t recall a single patient asking me what the fee for an elective operation would be. I hardly think a patient would ask at the time of an emergency. Most patients either don’t think about it or don’t consider it an issue. In many cases, they don’t understand how the system works at all. Here’s an example of the above in action: A new patient arrived for an appointment with the doctor. At the time he called to schedule it, he was told that the doctor did not accept his insurance. At check in, the secretary reminded him of this, and having amnesia for the previous conversation, he was taken aback...

Report: More U.S. Women Going Uninsured

From 2000 to 2010, the estimated number of uninsured women aged 19 to 64 in the United States increased from 12.8 million to 18.7 million, according to a report from the Commonwealth Fund. The report, available at www.commonwealthfund.org, compared the healthcare experiences of U.S. women to those of 10 industrialized nations with universal health insurance systems. Download report...
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