When it comes to providing quality patient care, hospitals and healthcare providers don’t always have time to wait on insurance companies. Unfortunately, that’s what one new Ohio law wants to do. According to the new patient-cost law, patients in Ohio will be required to track down written estimates “from health care providers on how much their insurer would be charged for each procedure, test or service. They would also be required to know how much their insurers would cover” before receiving non-emergency services.
Due to the outrage throughout the medical community over the law, it’s been delayed from going into effect, thanks to a pending lawsuit filed by lawyers in the Williams County Common Pleas Court. A hearing to determine the future of the law, and whether it will be implemented, is scheduled for January 20. Joining in on the lawsuit are “associations representing hospitals, doctors and other health care providers” who fear that the law is attempting to impose too much bureaucracy that could ultimately delay and negatively impact the quality of patient care.
But how could a law like this negatively impact patient care? Well, anyone who has ever had to deal with getting information from an insurance company knows how time-consuming the process can often be. Healthcare professionals are worried that patients could be stuck waiting hours or even days for all of the required information from their insurance companies that the new law is requiring. Depending on a patient’s situation, doctors might have to choose between “delaying patient care and risking malpractice or providing care and risk being sued for violating the law, or just not being compensated for the services eventually provided,” according to the lawsuit.
However, many are welcoming the new law, saying it’s great for patients. Some, like State Rep. Jim Butler, R-Oakwood, say the law is a great step towards price transparency, something he believes the healthcare industry is attempting to fight against. According to him, the new law is “definitely not something that is impossible for them to carry out. They just don’t want to carry it out. That’s the problem.”
Supporters of the law hope that it will improve price transparency of medical services, and encourage patients to shop around for the best price when seeking out services. Many also believe that increased price transparency will cut down on wasteful medical spending and improve overall care.
For patients, there are pros and cons to a law like the new patient-cost law. The pros are better price transparency, which could save families money. The cons arise if the fears of the healthcare industry come true, and patients find themselves having to spend long periods of time trying to get all their required documents in line before receiving care. However, because the law is so new, perhaps there is still time to work out the kinks so that when it does go into effect, everything runs smoothly.