The study found that more than $64 million of additional out-of-pocket payments are made each year to physicians providing emergency care out of network compared to what would have been paid for in-network care.
Physicians collected more for likely surprise bills compared to other cases, according to a Health Affairs study released Monday afternoon.
The research, based on data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey over the course of 15 years, stated that on average, physicians collected 65% of the charged amount for likely surprise bills, compared to 52% for other cases.
Additionally, patients that received an out-of-network surprise medical bill paid physicians more than 10 times as much as other emergency patients did.
The study's researchers indicated that enhanced consumer protections tackling surprise billing would address a costly issue in healthcare.
"Back-of-the-envelope calculations using our estimates suggest that there were more than $64 million per year in additional out-of-pocket payments made to physicians for emergency care provided out of network compared with what patients would have paid for the same care in-network," the researchers wrote. "Taken together, this implies that there is considerable scope for consumer protection legislation to reduce patients’ financial burden associated with surprise out-of-network bills."
Nearly 5% of emergency department (ED) visits for privately insured patients between 18 to 64-years-old contained surprise medical bills
The study also found that the "average physician payment to-charge ratios for likely surprise bill visits decreased as total physician charges increased," while all other ED visits remained constant.
One other notable finding from the report was that patients with surprise medical bills paid $151 in out-of-pocket physician payments compared to $15 for all other ED visits.
Jack O'Brien is the Content Team Lead and Finance Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.