They Said What?

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New York Times features our solution to surprise bills!

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

Dear They Said What? Nation,


I think most of TSW Nation has already downloaded our custom consent to sign in emergency situations, in lieu of whatever they put in front of you. You can put this consent — along with some other helpful conversation-starters for other medical issues in doctor visits — right into your Apple Wallet. (Android users are out of luck until a future software update in which the Wallet App is added.)

Your Wallet should look like this (I mean, assuming you also bank at Bank of America)…


…and then tap where it says: “Billing Consent” to open this up:

If you haven’t already done so, well, today’s New York Times should be enough to convince you. 

We’d encourage you to read the whole shebang but we’d be lying if we didn’t say this is our favorite part:

But, by writing in their own limits, patients might have leverage in negotiations or even in courts if out-of-network payment disputes arise, or at least proof they didn’t agree to pay the total charges, say some advocates and legal scholars.

Patients who try this could still get hit with a large balance bill. But “the difference is you can say ‘I offered this, but they refused it,’” rather than signing the original agreement to pay all charges, said Al Lewis, chief executive of Quizzify, an employee health care education company, who is a proponent of setting your own terms.

He came up with the twice-Medicare benchmark, even putting suggested wording for patients to print and carry with them on downloadable wallet cards, because he says it’s an amount that’s defensible.

If a hospital later turns down “two times Medicare and it goes to court, their lawyer is going to say, ‘We could lose this thing,’” said Mr. Lewis.

And, while I will be very pleased to take credit for inventing the consent in question (no “fake news” in this article!), I do want to give shout-outs to Marilyn Bartlett, David Contorno and Marty Makary. They provided the peanut butter (reference-based pricing) and chocolate (“battlefield consents”) and all I did was combine them.

And thank you to Stacey Richter for being the taste-tester. I was pretty sure this should work, but she was the one who proved it would work. In the immortal words attributed to the great philosopher Yogi Berra: “In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they’re different.”

Not this time.



In the immortal words of the great philosopher Pat Benatar, hit me with your best shot.

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