Ellen, a Long Islander, received an unexpected and unwelcomed bill from a hospital system when she went to her doctor’s office for a biopsy. She was not anticipating a “net facility charge” of $2,142 which she was not informed of. She protests that she was not provided with any notice that she would be charged extra for a facility charge when she was visiting a doctor. She also received a bill for net charges of $618.07 from the Doctor. “Had I known that was the billing practice, I would not have visited this doctor,” she says.
She adds, “There was nothing from the doctor or her staff, or from the circumstances of the procedure, that would have indicated to me that I was being treated at a hospital. Both the examination and the procedure took place in a typical examining room at the doctor’s office. I was not even placed on a special chair for the procedure— I was wearing my street clothes.” The facility fee is not a charge for an actual health service. As of now, it is a legal way for the hospital that bought your doctor’s office or clinic to add the hospital’s overhead cost to your doctor’s bill. Health Insurance often will not pay these facility fees, leaving the patient stuck with the bill, uninsured patients are always stuck with these facility fee bills.
A new bill, the (A3470B/S2521B), would regulate these health care facility fees and provide some semblance of protection by not allowing a provider to seek payment of these fees if not covered by insurance, unless they had notified and explained the fee and amount at least seven days in advance of the procedure. If approved by the New York State Legislature and signed into law by the Governor, the would ensure that patients will no longer be held responsible for this kind of surprise bill and what happened to Ellen will no longer happen to any other New Yorker. The bill would also prevent facility fees for preventive care – New York will be the first state to do so if it passes!