By Albert DiPiero MD MPH
The concept is just so strange: the fact that you can have excellent insurance, go to a facility that is in network, and the receive a “surprise medical bill” because one of the providers is out of network, and not covered by your insurance. Or even worse, you experience an emergency and are taken to an out-of-network hospital and receive care over which you have no control, and then receive a massive bill. The experience of devastating medical bills destroy all trust that people want to place in the healthcare system. But now the Trump administration has taken aim at surprise bills, and this is an area where bipartisan action stands a good chance of success. "We're going to stop all of it, and it's very important to me," said President Trump. Although it is not clear how this will happen, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are now meeting to workout legislation, as indicated in these accompanying articles. And I have written previously on how, despite the chaos, this administration has put forth some radically creative proposals for dealing with some of the most intransigent problems in healthcare, including hospital pricing and prescription drug pricing. Surprise bills fits in a similar category, with 57 percent of Americans reporting an experience with a large unanticipated medical bill. This is also an area where the healthcare entrepreneur has significant ability to do some good through creative approaches to pricing, payment reform, and supply of different types of providers and methods of care.