MONDAY, July 10, 2023 (HealthDay News) — When they need health care, Americans can be slapped with surprise medical costs because of loopholes in the law and “junk fees,” according to the White House.
The Biden administration is taking action on several fronts to deal with these unexpected costs.
“Evading the law and playing games to charge crazy, outrageous prices has to end,” President Joe Biden said in remarks on Friday.
The efforts are part of a bigger economic vision dubbed “Bidenomics,” the White House said. It’s focused on “restoring the American dream,” which the White House said has been limited “to those at the top.”
Proposed rules include closing loopholes in which companies offer “misleading insurance products that can discriminate based on pre-existing conditions and trick consumers into buying products that provide little or no coverage when they need it most,” the White House said.
Instead, insurance companies would be required to be clear about what’s covered, “instead of burying it in fine print,” Biden said.
The Trump administration had allowed these loopholes, according to the White House.
Additional new rules will curb surprise medical billing, NBC News reported. This will protect patients from unexpected bills for care they had thought was in-network. These surprise out-of-network bills cost an average of $750 to $2,600, the White House said.
“Too many Americans lie in bed, staring at the ceiling worrying what will happen if their spouse gets seriously ill,” Biden said.
It’s illegal under federal law for health plans that contract with hospitals to claim being out-of-network, NBC News reported. The Biden administration will offer new guidance making this clear to providers.
“Health care services provided by these providers are either out-of-network and subject to the surprise billing protections,” the White House said, “or they are in-network and subject to the ACA’s [Affordable Care Act’s] annual limitation on cost-sharing, further protecting consumers from excessive out-of-pocket costs.”
Information on “facility fees” must be clear for consumers, according to a White House fact sheet.
The administration is also taking steps to protect consumers from issues with third-party medical credit cards.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Treasury Department will work together to make sure health care providers are complying with consumer protections, NBC News reported.
The American Medical Association has more on trends in health care spending.
SOURCES: NBC News, July 7, 2023; White House fact sheet, July 7, 2023
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