Startup partners with insurers to manage medical bill collections

Ooda Health, a  startup company with offices in San Francisco and Salt Lake City, is running a pilot program with insurers and hospitals as it tries to fix healthcare's medical billing problems, according to CNBC.

Ooda wants to fix medical billing problems through making the process easier. It is working with Anthem, Blue Shield of California and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona on a pilot, according to CNBC. The idea behind the experiment is to get insurers, rather than hospitals and physician offices, to be responsible for collecting patient medical bills.

Many Americans face unexpected out-of-network medical bills. A study published Aug. 12 in JAMA Internal Medicine showed  32.3 percent of privately insured patients faced out-of-network bills after emergency department visits at in-network hospitals in 2010, compared to 42.8 percent in 2016. Hospitals and health systems try to collect this debt through collection agencies and other means, and some organizations have even been in the news lately due to their aggressive debt collection practices. Additionally, patients may have a hard time understanding their medical bills when they receive them.

Under Ooda's pilot with insurers, a health insurance company adjudicates a patient claim and pays the hospital or clinic for the insurer's portion, according to CNBC. The insurance company and Ooda then pays the patient's portion, and the technology startup and the insurer together manage the patient debt.

"It's absurd when you think about it," Seth Cohen, president and co-founder of Ooda, told the TV business news channel. "Can you imagine finishing your meal at a restaurant and then handing over a credit card only to get a bill months later, followed by a collections agency that's hired to chase you up? No, the credit card company takes on the responsibility right then and there."

The pilot with insurers is slated to last one year, but can lead to a permanent relationship with Ooda if the insurer wants.

Read the full CNBC report here.

 

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