Medical bills may surprise patients

When people in Tennessee go to the hospital, they often check carefully to make sure they are choosing a provider that is in-network for their insurance company. This should allow their healthcare treatment to be fully covered to the extent possible under their insurance. However, many people continue to face surprise medical bills that can be costly after a hospital stay. Almost one out of every seven patients receives a bill for an out-of-network service as part of an in-network hospital admission.

These bills cover a range of medical treatments and healthcare providers. It is not possible for patients to anticipate or predict the bills that they will receive after they have already chosen an in-network hospital to receive treatment. For example, anesthesiology services associated with surgery were linked to 16.5 percent of out-of-network claims. Other medical specialties in the hospital also led to these bills, including 12.6 percent associated with primary care and 11 percent with emergency medicine. This means that even when people seek emergency treatment at a hospital in their insurer's network, they can still find themselves facing hefty medical bills later on.

Another significant cost was associated with independent labs. Around 22.1 percent of claims for independent labs were considered out-of-network with costs being passed on to the patients. In 10 states, at least 15 percent of people who went to a hospital in their insurer's network later faced bills for out-of-network services. Various proposals have been made for legislative changes that could address this problem.

Medical bills can contribute substantially to a person's debt burden, especially if they are also struggling with credit card bills or other debts. People who are facing debts they are unable to repay may consult with a bankruptcy lawyer about options that could help them find relief and pursue a new financial future.

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