Thursday, April 24, 2014

Notice to Patients Required for Outpatient Facility Fees

The Connecticut House of Representatives responded on Wednesday to medical billing concerns patients expressed over undisclosed and unexpected facility fees by unanimously passing a bill that requires notice. Many patients expressed that the additional charges were a surprise when they received their bill. The legislation now moves to the state Senate for a vote.

The charges, often referred to as "facility fees" are charged to patients by medical offices that are owned by hospitals for outpatient care. These fees are separate from doctor fees. Facility fees range from several hundred to thousands of dollars.

The bill to require notice to patients about fees possible extra charges for outpatient care at medical offices owned by hospitals. The bill specifically requires that patients with scheduled appointments at medical offices where facility fees are charged receive notice about the fees in plain language before they receive treatments scheduled so long as the appointment is scheduled at least 10 days in advance. If the exact nature of the services or insurance coverage is unknown the patients would be provided with an estimate based on typical charges at the facility. Notice for patients receiving emergency care would need to be delivered as soon as practicable after the patient is stabilized. The bill does not impact the offices' ability to charge facility fees.

Other provisions in the bill are include requirements that the office prominently displays that the facility is connected to a hospital, what hospital the office is affiliated with, and states that the patient may be incur higher charges than if they were treated at a facility that isn't hospital-based.

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