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Get rid of surprises hidden in health care bills

Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Erin Murphy was fielding questions after her speech during a Lyon County Democratic-Farmers-Labor event Nov. 10 when the subject of health care billing came up.

A woman in the audience stood up and described a common experience when it comes to health care.

She described getting her bill in the mail and the “part I owe is always a surprise.”

“I can have the same treatment done six months ago and it cost me this much. Six months later it’s the same thing, the same person, same medical treatment, it costs $200 more. That’s like ‘whew, that’s a surprise.’ What do we do about surprise billing?” the woman asked Murphy.

“I don’t know about you, but every time I get a bill from my insurer or provider, I get the sweats,” Murphy told the woman.

“I think it’s done by design,” Murphy said of the surprise billing that Americans often face after a medical procedure.

Murphy also reminded her audience that there used to be more of a regulatory scheme. But today, she said, prices are set in some kind of random way and they are discounted with all sorts of mechanisms.

On Friday, the Trump administration announced a push to require insurers and hospitals to disclose upfront the actual prices for common tests and procedures to promote competition and push down costs. The Associated Press article stated that the sweeping changes face push back from the health care industry. A coalition of major hospital groups quickly announced that hospitals will sue to block key provisions.

While health care billing is commonly full of surprises, the push back from the health care industry is not shocking. The proposed regulations would put an end to the health-care billing games.

White House officials say the rules would shine a spotlight on the confusing maze of health care prices, allowing informed patients to find quality services at the lowest cost.

While Democrats and Republicans have been bumping heads throughout Donald Trump’s tenure as president, Trump’s proposal to take on the health care billing maze is something both sides of the aisle can find some common ground.

It’s time to get rid of the surprises. Health care consumers deserve a better billing system they can understand.

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