North Carolina Gov Signs Law to Help Consumers With Medical Billing

Gov Pat McCrory Medical Billing LawIn an effort to protect consumers, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has recently set up requirements for hospitals to provide public pricing information on 140 common medical procedures and services.  Hospital patients in the past have had no access to this type of information, keeping them in the dark about what they would be paying for their treatment.  The governor hopes this new law will allow consumers to make more informed decisions about their hospital treatments and avoid being in debt to their medical provider.

The Goal Of The New Law

The goal of signing this new law was to increase price transparency along with a few other changes that would benefit medical patients struggling to pay their bills.  Instead of receiving treatment and then being surprised by the final cost of their medical billing statement, consumers can now review pricing information that will be published on the Department of Health and Human Services website.  There will be prices listed for 100 common in-patient services, 20 common surgical procedures and 20 common imaging procedures.

One of the reasons that these prices need to be made public was due to large discrepancies in the cost of many of the procedures. In hospitals across the state the highest price for a certain procedure could be nearly triple the cost of the lowest price for the same procedure.  This kind of unfair billing practice will be more apparent to consumers when they are better able to determine the cost of medical treatment through public information.

Publishing Pricing For Common Procedures 

In addition to publishing pricing for a number of common procedures, hospitals will also be required to submit their policies on charity care to their website.  With information regarding charity policies more readily available, consumers will be able to review options for free or inexpensive treatment if they have a very low income and are not able to afford the cost of regular treatment.  With more of this type of pricing and care options made public, patients will no longer have to be stuck with bills they are not able to pay because of the hospital’s reluctance to reveal their medical bill charges prior to treatment.  They will be more aware of other options whether it is lower prices at a different hospital or charity policies that were not advertised or made public by the hospital in the past.

The law has also made the effort to protect consumers facing medical debt from being forced to pay by some of the hospitals’ collection methods.  The law places limits on the North Carolina hospitals’ ability to put liens on a patient’s residence in order to collect unpaid medical bills.  Other state-owned hospitals will no longer be allowed to garnish a patient’s wages in order to collect money for their medical debt.  These types of collection methods can make it more difficult for consumers to handle their finances as they are losing some of their income in order to pay their debt.  The Governor plans to abolish these harsh tactics with the new law which will give patients more time to deal with medical bills they are not able to pay instead of hospitals forcibly collecting their debt.

Easier Patients To Pay Their Medical Bills

The Governor’s signing of this law is a step toward making it easier for patients to pay their medical bills in a way that is affordable to them.  The differences in cost for various procedures as well as the collection methods used for medical debt have made patients struggle unnecessarily to pay their bills.  This law is a major consumer protection bill that will provide some much needed transparency to hospital billing practices.