Eliminating Price Gouging Contracts

Today, providers require you to sign a contract to pay whatever they charge, without telling you anything about the charges until after the services are rendered. This means that you could receive a huge bill weeks after a service and be required to pay it, no matter how much it is.


When you go to a facility for medical care you are required to sign several papers. One of those papers includes a statement that says you are ultimately liable for any amount the provider charges you. The provider, however, does not tell you the amount you will be billed, or how much above the Medicare allowance you are being charged.


Example:

  • You step up to the receptionist counter and are asked to complete several forms.
  • You sign the forms, including one that says you are liable for any amount that is billed.
  • Consider a procedure where Medicare allows $100.
  • The provider bills you 250% above the Medicare allowance ($250) after the service is completed.
  • You do not realize that you are liable for the excessive billing amount until it’s too late. 
  • The provider has the right to collect the full $250, and can use a collection agency. 


Solution:

Minnesota law should require providers to disclose the percentage above Medicare that they charge for services prior to the services being performed. 


Furthermore, the law should require providers to secure a written signed disclosure from you in advance of providing services/procedures when charging in excess of the Medicare allowance. 


Providers who fail to obtain a signed disclosure from you before or at the time services are provided, will be limited to reimbursement from you or your health plan of no more than 100% above the Medicare allowance. 


If you are incapacitated, a provider may not attempt to collect any fees in excess of 200% of the Medicare allowance for health care services provided during the time of the incapacitation (unless you have previously signed a disclosure with the provider).

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