Some Mississippi healthcare providers are illegally balance billing, report finds

Mississippi healthcare providers continue to send patients large out-of-network medical bills, despite state law designed to protect consumers, according to a recent Harvard Law School report.

The report examines the practice of balance billing. which happens when a healthcare provider charges an amount for its services and the patient is responsible for the difference between the charges and the amount covered by insurance. It typically happens when the provider is not part of the patient's insurance network.

Mississippi passed legislation to prohibit balance billing in 2013. However, the law has little enforcement measures, meaning it is only advantageous to patients who are familiar with the law and challenge their bills, according to Mississippi Today.

Authors of the Harvard Law School report said some providers continue to send balance bills, and the state needs to have stronger enforcement mechanisms to combat the practice.

They recommend that Mississippi lawmakers clarify enforcement authority of  balance billing and ban providers from reporting surprise medical bills to credit agencies.

They also call for "establishing transparent, reasonable payment standards for out-of-network providers that operate at in-network facilities along with a clear, fair process for resolving payment disputes between providers and insurers."  

 

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