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Care to guess the odds of a surprise medical bill for an ER visit?

Do you know whether heartburn pills are safe for long-term use?

According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, an employee’s odds of getting a surprise medical bill for an ER visit or a hospital stay exceed 40%!

Well, you might say, serves ’em right for not staying in-network.

Wrong. This study looked only at in-network visits and admissions. Thing is, in-network facilities are often staffed with out-of-network providers. I know this firsthand — I’m in a private equity fund that’s making a killing by rolling up provider practices in local markets and keeping them out of network. It’s illegal for provider practices to collude to stay out of network, but it is perfectly legal for them to merge and make a practice-wide decision to stay out of network.

So, wellness vendors and consultants, here are two opportunities you can’t refuse, that are both central to your business strategy:

  1. Actually do something useful for employees, as opposed to your usual scripted diatribes. Newsflash: employees already know they need to quit smoking and eat broccoli. But they don’t know how to avoid these bills.
  2. Prevent me from making money.

Also, this is the one thing that could bankrupt them that is totally avoidable. And yet your financial wellness program doesn’t cover it.

Fortunately, if you can spare one short hour on October 31 (which you will get back 38 hours later, when the time changes), you can learn how your employees can avoid these bills. All it takes is a little sticker to put on an insurance card and teaching employees to use their card, rather than sign whatever is put in front of them and/or say: “Same as last year” when they ask you if your insurance information has changed.

The all-star cast of this webinar includes David Contorno, Brian Klepper, Marty Makary, and Marilyn Bartlett. You can register here.

PS If you can’t make the time because of open enrollment, you’ll have access to the recording.





  1. Dr. AnthonyP says:

    I am intrigued! Unfortunately seeing patients when the webinar happens. How does one access the recording?
    Also, two questions.
    1. Does this in network but out of network doc thing primarily apply to ER visits?
    2. Shouldn’t your goal to be make more money for yourself?


    • whynobodybelievesthenumbers says:

      You can sign up and get the recording. The solution will only work in emergency settings — visits, admissions/deliveries, and transfers. Otherwise people are on their own.

      And that second question is a very good one. I’m cashing the checks, of course. But I won’t be re-investing with this PE firm for their next fund.


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