Opinion: Finding a fair solution to surprise health care billing

By Chris MacQueen, Taos native, Albuquerque resident
Posted 9/12/19

I am glad to see Congress working on legislation to end surprise billing, which I experienced firsthand. No one should go through what I did--being bounced around the health care system only to find …

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Opinion: Finding a fair solution to surprise health care billing

Posted

I am glad to see Congress working on legislation to end surprise billing, which I experienced firsthand. No one should go through what I did--being bounced around the health care system only to find out, too late, that some treatments and procedures I endured weren't even covered by my insurance. Two years later, and I'm still paying off the debt this put me and my partner in.

While it's great that Congress is taking this issue seriously, our elected officials in Washington must solve this problem the right way. One proposed solution - essentially to allow the government to set rates for physicians providing the out-of-network care that currently results in surprise billing - could make matters much worse for patients, especially those in rural communities like my hometown of Taos.

By setting what in all likelihood would be arbitrarily low rates, a benchmarking approach to ending surprise medical billing would result in doctors being paid far less for their services, and these losses would simply be shifted onto local hospitals. Rural facilities would be hardest hit, potentially threatening access, affordability and quality for rural patients.

Another approach - known as independent dispute resolution (IDR) - offers a far more effective solution. IDR would create a transparent negotiation process for insurers and providers to settle billing disputes while protecting rural access to care. New Mexico's Congressional delegation should fight to include IDR in any bill Congress passes to end the scourge of surprise billing once and for all.

Chris MacQueen

Taos native, Albuquerque resident

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