Patients Paying $1B in Medical Bills They Don't Owe

Health-care providers engage in illegal practice to get funds
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 29, 2008 3:37 PM CDT
"I didn't have any choice," said one patient. "They threatened me with bad credit."   (Index Stock)
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(Newser) – Millions of patients throughout the country are footing the bill for medical payments they don’t owe, BusinessWeek reports. In a practice known as balance billing, health-care providers stick weary patients with the cost of their treatment not covered by insurers. The practice is often illegal, but, according to estimates, consumers shell out at least $1 billion a year for bills they’re not responsible for.

“I didn’t have any choice,” said one patient. “They threatened me with bad credit.” A California state official added, “Patients are having their credit destroyed at a time when they are already sick and vulnerable.” Health care providers, who are supposed to haggle with insurers to cover the balance, are lobbying Congress to reduce restrictions on balance billing. (Read more health care costs stories.)