Connecticut hospitals required to explain outpatient facility fee in 2016

A provision under a broader healthcare bill in Connecticut mandates institutions that bill patients for a facility fee to clearly explain the charges, effective Jan. 1, according to The Register Citizen.

The new law requires all hospitals and health systems that acquire a physician group and plans to implement a facility fee to notify all of the practice's patients from the previous three years, according to the report. All billing statements that include a facility fee must plainly identify the fee, ensure it is apparent the fee covers operational expenses and also include a written notice of patients' right to request the facility fee, or any other item on the bill, be reduced.

Patients have complained they have been blindsided by the outpatient facility fees, which are intended to compensate the facility for operational expenses for outpatient services provided inside a hospital facility.

"Beginning in 2014, I began receiving more frequent complaints from patients that they were receiving unexpected — and, in some cases, very large — bills for services," said Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, according to the report. "Most were unaware that their regular doctor or specialist, who they might have been seeing for years at that point, had been acquired by a hospital and that they would now be subject to these facility fees."

The fees have become increasingly common in Connecticut hospitals as hospitals have continued to acquire physician practices, according to the report.

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