Thanks to corona, surprise bills are ba-ack. And as you read below, you’ll see why coronabills will be a thing in 2020.
You can listen to a new podcast on this exact topic when you go to work. That is, assuming, you either work in an essential industry that you need to actually go to, such as supermarkets, first-responding or healthcare (and thank you for that!!!), or you work at a place where you can easily socially distance, such as repairing Maytags, arguably the safest job on earth.
The private equity firms that own these out-of-network practices are no doubt relieved that surprise bills have magically disappeared from the headlines — but they have not magically disappeared from your claims spend. PE firms have not suddenly decided en masse to become good citizens. Quite the opposite – their other investments are foundering, with out-of-network providers being the bright spots in their portfolio. All thanks to surprise billing.
Here are three of the Six Things You Need to Know about Coronabills.
1. There is zero chance of federal surprise billing legislation this year
Consider the rather sketchy ad campaign run in “swing districts” last year by the private equity firms owning these practices. The theme was that if doctors don’t get paid enough, there won’t be enough doctors.
Well, as effective as that campaign apparently was in 2019 (you didn’t see any surprise bill prohibition passed into law, right?), imagine how effective it would be in 2020. All they would need is a few live shots of overwhelmed emergency rooms, which aren’t exactly hard to come by.
Prediction: it’s not just that nothing will pass. You won’t even see a bill make it out of Committee this year.
2. Because your total health spending will drop precipitously in 2020, you won’t carefully parse your bills
Executives pay more attention to healthcare spending – or any budget item – when it is rising. Elective procedures and doctor visits are so far off this year that total spend will decline. Hence you probably won’t even notice these surprise bills.
3. The canary in the coal mine would be employee complaints about surprise bills. Except that the copay is zero in many cases
As an ERISA plan, you don’t have to offer full coverage for treatment. But most of you will follow your carrier’s guidance. Which is to say, you will offer full coverage. Hence employees won’t be balance-billed. And that in turn means they won’t notice the total bill. Or, if they do notice, they won’t care. Bottom line: these bills won’t come to your attention.