The New York Times recently reported on the disturbing trend of patients receiving “surprise” medical bills after surgery. It is not uncommon for a surgeon to call in another doctor for assistance or consultation in the middle of a surgical procedure – and in some cases, this is a doctor who the patient has never met. The patient will then receive a six-figure bill from this other doctor, despite having never consented to the doctor’s treatment.
Many patients who receive these surprise bills find that their insurance will not cover most of the costs, because the doctor who performed the procedure is not considered “in network.” There have been many allegations that surgeons call in other doctors even when it is unnecessary, in order to pad their patients’ bills. In some cases, the surgeons share proceeds with the doctors they call in for “assistance.”
The problem has become severe enough that the state of New York has passed a bill that will prevent patients from being charged more than their “in-network” costs for emergency procedures. The bill also requires that health plans receive certification for their provider networks, to ensure that members will not have to go to out-of-network providers for their medical needs. However, the bill will not become effective until March 31, 2015.
Receiving unexpected bills is just one of the many concerns for accident victims who undergo surgery. The general cost of surgery continues to rise. When you are the victim of an accident due to someone else’s negligence, you may be unsure of what costs you will be expected to pay, and how your insurance matters will be handled.
Protecting Yourself After an Accident
If you need surgery after experiencing an accident, one of the most important decisions you will make is your choice of surgeon. Many patients fail to do the proper research before selecting their doctor, or selecting the site where their surgery will take place. This choice can affect the cost of your procedure by thousands of dollars. Also, by looking into your surgeon’s background, you may be able to find out if he or she has a history of padding patients’ bills with unnecessary consultations.
There are also many patients who will pay medical bills without reading them. As a result, they may end up paying for fraudulent charges – or for charges that were added to their bills by mistake. Be sure to go over your medical bills before you pay them, and look into what you are being charged for. If you suspect that you are being billed unfairly, you may wish to contact an attorney.
Getting legal advice is one of the most important things that accident victims can do to protect themselves. If your injuries were caused by someone else’s misconduct, a personal injury attorney will fight to hold them accountable for your medical bills, and for your pain and suffering.
Paul Giannetti is an experienced personal injury lawyer in Albany, New York. You can set up a free consultation by calling the office at (866) 868-2960, or by reaching out online.