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Was the amount of medical debt a surprise after a hospital visit?

JAMA Internal Medicine recently published the findings of a study conducted between 2010 and 2016 by researchers at Stanford University. It took years thereafter to compile the data. What it discovered is that the number of patients being surprised by large amounts of medical debt rose dramatically. People here in Texas more than likely discovered the same thing, but they may think it is just the rising cost of health care, but it may be more than that.

First, it is important to know that the patients participated in private medical insurance plans. Researchers discovered that patients were incurring charges based on out-of-network prices even though they went to hospitals purportedly in-network. The percentage of patients receiving these higher bills after visiting an emergency room rose from 39% to 42.8% during the study period. Patients admitted to the hospital did not experience as high an instance of this happening, but the numbers were still surprising.

On an average, the cost of these out-of-network bills "more than doubled" during the study period. If this was not enough of a problem, this type of medical billing is only increasing. For example, the hospital may be in an insured's network, but the physician may not be.

Like everywhere else, Texas patients expect that when they enter an in-network hospital, all costs will follow suit. Unfortunately, that just is not the case, which could account for some of the reason that unsuspecting patients leave hospitals with exorbitant medical debt. At this point, they may need to search for a viable debt relief option, including bankruptcy.

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