On April 23, state representatives from Connecticut passed a bill that could change the way that medical billing services operate in the state. According to the Connecticut Mirror, the legislation is aimed at ensuring that medical patients are notified of extra charges following outpatient care conducted in medical offices. The bill passed unanimously in the State House, and now it awaits a State Senate vote before it becomes Connecticut state law.

Details of the bill
Following an appointment, some practices charge facility fees, which can cost hundreds, even thousands, of dollars. These bills are separate from what is known as doctor's fees, a typical charge that is part of electronic medical billing services. One of the biggest issues that patients face within the health care industry is the fact that they are unaware of these types of fees until their bill comes in mail. This new legislation would make Connecticut medical practices who charge such fees explain the cost in a simple and straightforward way to patients.

The source used an example from Connecticut resident Susan Ferro, who underwent two biopsies at an outpatient medical practice within the span of two years. At the first appointment, her insurance covered the entire cost of the services. However, after the second meeting with her doctor, the medical practice had been acquired by a hospital. Ferro was unaware of this change, and the facility fees that ensued later on. Ferro's insurance included a deductible for such hospital-related care, which ended up costing her $4,000.

Keeping everything upfront
The bill also allows practices to deliver medical billing and coding information upfront in the event of direct care so that patients will have a rough estimate of how much the facility fees will cost while they are still at the medical office. This allows them to understand if their insurance will cover the costs, making things more transparent for practices as well as patients. Although the bill certainly makes things easier for patients cost-wise, it does not affect the medical office's ability to charge facility fees in general. The source highlighted a Jepsen's survey showing that 22 out of 29 hospitals in Connecticut charged facility fees with their corresponding outpatient medical offices.

This could affect thousands of patients in Connecticut if the legislation does pass through the Senate. It's becoming increasingly common for hospital campuses to buy out physician practices – which means that facility fees could become the norm.