What is balance billing?
Balance billing is the practice of a medical provider (hospital, doctor, lab, etc.) accepting payment from a patient's insurance provider and then turning around and collecting more than that payment from the patient. For example, Joe Patient goes to the hospital with a heart attack. Joe is billed $100,000.00 by the hospital, but Joe's health insurance company pays the hospital $25,000.00 per their agreement with the hospital. The hospital then turns around and tries to collect $75,000.00 from Joe. This is how people get caught off guard by medical bills and go bankrupt even when they have health insurance.
Are there any protections for patients?
Yes, absolutely. In 2013, the Mississippi Legislature enacted a law that protects people from balance billing. The law states that if a medical provider accepts payment from a health insurance company on behalf of a patient, the medical provider is then prohibited from collecting any amount from the patient above the patient's deductible, co-pay, or co-insurance. So in the example above, Joe only owes his deductible/copay. Joe does not owe that $75,000.00 the hospital is working to collect.
If it is against the law, why is it still happening?
We don't know. Perhaps some medical providers don't know it is illegal, but that seems unlikely. What we do know is that most Mississippians don't know about this protection. We also know that Mississippians are suffering from these illegal medical debt collections every single day.
What does this mean for me?
It means that you need to call us as soon as possible if you suspect you have been a victim of balance billing. If you have been a victim, we may be able to stop the collections calls and perhaps even get some of the money back for victims of balance billing. Even if you didn't pay the balance bill, you still need to call. There's no cost for us to review your case and see if we can help, so please don't hesitate to call.
If you don't want to call, you can go to www.balancebillinginfo.com to learn more and to fill out a form to see whether or not you might have been a victim.