Surprise Medical Bills are more than an annoyance. Many Americans have gone to the doctor and come home to find mail informing them that they have to pay out-of-pocket expenses because the care they received was not covered. Congress is looking at solutions, but it should not make the problem worse by shifting blame to the victims — doctors and patients.
SMBs are charges arising when an insured individual receives care from an out-of-network provider then gets an unexpected bill. These bills are great for insurance companies because they end up not having to pay for care. SMBs hurt patients, doctors and health care providers because they are receiving blame for something created by the insurance companies. The insurance companies purposely draw narrow coverage plans and do everything they can to not pay out claims.
Victimized patients are given very confusing contracts about coverage that the insurers purposely make very difficult to get reimbursed for care out of coverage. The patients should not have to become experts in coverage to figure out how to get paid back for care when they were sick. Doctors are also victims because they work hard to provide services within the system that the government and insurers established. Doctors invest time and effort to figure out ways to heal sick people, yet they are the ones that insurers try to blame for confusing health insurance plans.
There is another bad actor on the playing field including progressives who want to disrupt the established health care delivery system to establish a single-payer system. These activists support measures that move our system away from market driven and toward government-controlled health care. They want a single-payer system that resembles Medicare-for-All putting the government in control of health care decision making and they are using SMBs as a way to sour voters on the current system.
The issue of SMB is being pushed by billionaire activist John Arnold, who established the Laura and John Arnold Foundation to push for left-wing causes. Arnold is worth more than $3 billion and he is yet another billionaire trying to control the government with his massive wealth. Investor’s Business Daily reported on October 23, 2018, “Flying way under the radar, the Arnolds have spread an incredible amount of wealth over the past decade to push domestic public policy to the left. In fact, since January 2011, their foundation has disbursed more than $1 billion to advance special-interest causes.” These causes include gun control, abortion and defunding conservative groups.
One of the foundation’s most prominent issues is pushing for a single-payer health care system. The Wall Street Journal reported on October 21, 2018, that “billionaire John D. Arnold is spending a chunk of his fortune to campaign against America’s high drug prices. The drug industry is spending a chunk of its fortune to counter him. Mr. Arnold is the biggest single spender on his side of the battle.”
They have made it seem like there is a groundswell of support for a progressive government-controlled solution to the problem of high health care out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs and uncovered care.
SMBs are a problem, yet it would be unwise to let the insurers who created the problem craft a solution. It would also be unwise to allow a progressive billionaire to craft a solution that brings us closer to a socialist health care system. Any solution to this problem should be market based and recognize that insurance companies have caused this problem.