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No more surprise “balance billing”?

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The House is considering two bills this year related to balance billing.

Generally speaking, balance billing is the practice of a health insurer charging a patient for the difference between what the health care provider wants to charge and what the insurer wants to pay.

The two bills in the New Hampshire House – HB 1643 and HB 1809 – focus on balance billing when a patient goes to an in-network facility but receives treatment from an out-of-network doctor.

The two bills also only apply to anesthesiology, radiology, emergency medicine, or pathology services.

Put a stop to surprise medical bills

Supporters of a ban on balance billing note that it often occurs in emergency situations, when a patient does not have the opportunity to be choosy about doctors. It is unjust to charge patients more in this situation, and contributes to medical debt.

Many other states have some laws against balance billing. The New Hampshire Insurance Department also supports the bill.

Is balance billing really the issue?

Opponents of HB 1643 and HB 1809 argue that rather than ban balance billing, the state should focus on the underlying problem: inadequate health insurance networks. After all, a patient only suffers from balance billing if he or she is forced to receive care out-of-network. Patients should demand that their health insurers expand narrow networks.

The issue of narrow networks first came to light in New Hampshire in 2014, when the online health insurance exchange launched with just one narrow-network plan.

Click here to learn more about the challenges of New Hampshire’s online health insurance exchange.

Do you support limits to balance billing? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


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