There’s Lots Of Talk About Surprise Medical Bills In Congress, But Ambulance Costs Have Been Left Out Of Conversation
Lawmakers across the country and federally have been trying to figure out the best way to address surprise medical bills. But one of the main causes of the problem --ambulance rides -- isn't in any of the proposed legislation. “If you call 911 for an ambulance, it’s basically a coin flip whether or not that ambulance will be in or out of network," said Christopher Garmon, a health economist at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Meanwhile, legislation in the House over the bills is unlikely to be addressed until after August recess.
The New York Times:
Politicians Tackle Surprise Bills, But Not The Biggest Source Of Them: Ambulances
After his son was hit by a car in San Francisco and taken away by ambulance, Karl Sporer was surprised to get a bill for $800. Mr. Sporer had health insurance, which paid for part of the ride. But the ambulance provider felt that amount wasn’t enough, and billed the Sporer family for the balance. “I paid it quickly,” Mr. Sporer said. “They go to collections if you don’t.” That was 15 years ago, but ambulance companies around the nation are still sending such surprise bills to customers, as Mr. Sporer knows well. These days, he oversees the emergency medical services in neighboring Alameda County. The contract his county negotiated allows a private ambulance company to send similar bills to insured patients. (Kliff and Sanger-Katz, 7/22)
Surprise Bill Legislation Likely Won't Reach House Floor Before Recess
The House Education and Labor Committee isn't expected to mark up surprise billing legislation next week, according to four congressional aides, meaning the full chamber likely won't consider the bill until after August recess. The delay will give industry powerhouses more time to lobby on the legislation, which the Energy and Commerce Committee approved this week. The labor panel also has jurisdiction over the issue. (Roubein and Cancryn, 7/19)
And in other news on health care costs and quality —
The New York Times:
Start-Up Says It’s Changing Eye Care For The Better. Others See It Differently.
The colorful ads on Facebook and Instagram promise a fantastic bargain: “Stop overpaying for contact lenses. Get 30 contacts delivered to your door for ONLY $1.” Captions like “wow” and “what a steal” splash across images of teal containers and lenses perched on fingertips, urging consumers to act fast. This social media marketing has been integral to the growth of the online contact lens start-up Hubble since its founding in 2016. It has raised more than $70 million from venture firms and companies like Colgate-Palmolive, which are attracted to its plan to disrupt the contact lens industry by providing a line of low-cost daily lenses through monthly $39 subscriptions. It’s like Dollar Shave Club — for eyeballs. (Maheshwari, 7/21)