Billing issue leaves patients feeling ill
Los Angeles Times, May 19, 2008
Consumer advocates say many patients may be unnecessarily paying bills because of a controversial practice known as "balance billing" used by a growing number of healthcare providers who say insurers are shortchanging them. Balance billing occurs when doctors and hospitals claim they've been underpaid by insurers and ask patients to pay the rest. Some patients assume that such bills are cleared by their insurer. For example, a doctor may charge $2,000 for a procedure, but the health plan pays $1,500. Under balance billing, the hospital would ask the patient for $500 even though a patient had paid his or her full share of the service.