Survey: Insurance Companies Should Pay for Unexpected Out-of-network Bills

In a new poll, nearly 60 percent of Michiganders agree that insurance companies should bear the financial responsibility when patients receive unexpected out-of-network medical bills.
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medical bill
In a recent survey, Michigan residents said insurance companies should pay for unexpected out-of-network medical bills. // Stock photo

In a new poll, nearly 60 percent of Michiganders agree that insurance companies should bear the financial responsibility when patients receive unexpected out-of-network medical bills.

Epic-MRA in Delta Charter Township (just west of Lansing) conducted a statewide poll that looked into how patients feel about such bills.

“The consensus is clear on this issue,” says Dr. S. Bobby Mukkamala, president of the Michigan State Medical Society. “Across all geographies and demographic subsets, voters overwhelmingly believe that insurance companies should be the ones paying the tab when patients receive a surprise out-of-network bill.”

While 59 percent of respondents believe health insurance companies should be held financially responsible for surprise medical bills, 6 percent believe the burden should rest on patients, and 3 percent say physicians and other medical providers should foot the bill.

“There was really no ambiguity here on the question of who should be held financially responsible for surprising billing, and that isn’t that surprising considering nearly half of survey respondents also believe insurance companies are most responsible for creating this problem in the first place,” says Mukkamala.

About 48 percent of the respondents believe health insurance companies are most responsible for patients receiving surprise medical bills, while 20 percent say hospitals are most responsible.

Michigan lawmakers are considering HB 4459, which addresses surprise billing. The bill has passed through the Michigan House of Representatives and is now set to be considered in the Senate. Before sending the legislation to the Senate, the House added a provision that allows insurance companies to reimburse the patient instead of non-participating providers in surprise billing situations.

“As it’s currently written, HB 4459 shifts the burden of surprise billing onto the backs of physicians and puts patients firmly in the middle of any billing disputes, which is exactly what Michigan residents don’t want when it comes to dealing with this problem,” says Mukkamala. “As lawmakers continue to deliberate on how to best address surprise billing, they should know that sort of plan is completely misaligned with where Michigan resident are on this issue.”

The poll surveyed 600 Michigan residents who identified as likely voters in the November election and has a margin of error of +/- 4 points. The survey was conducted via live interviews starting on July 25 and running through July 30.

The Michigan State Medical Society is the statewide professional association of 15,000 physicians. It is affiliated with the American Medical Association and based in East Lansing. Physician policies on various issues involving public health, health care delivery, and medical ethics are set at the annual MSMS House of Delegates meeting.

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