Houston Matters

Contract Doctors in ERs Often Leave Texans with Unexpected Medical Bills

For many of us with health insurance, we know if we get treatment from a doctor who’s in our health insurance’s network the price of that treatment will be cheaper. And if you see a provider outside your network the price could often be significantly higher. Therefore, it makes sense that if you have to […]

For many of us with health insurance, we know if we get treatment from a doctor who’s in our health insurance’s network the price of that treatment will be cheaper. And if you see a provider outside your network the price could often be significantly higher.

Therefore, it makes sense that if you have to go to an emergency room it’s better to go to the hospital that’s in your network, right? Well, not always, according to a report released by the Center for Public Policy Priorities.

Oftentimes, the doctors working in that ER are hired as contractors, and the study says that the three largest insurers in Texas bill about half of their ER charges as out-of-network services because those doctors are contractors. And that means that already costly visit to the ER could end up costing a patient even more.

We discuss the practice known as “balance billing” with Stacey Pogue, Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities, and look at the practices of the biggest ensurers in Texas and ERs around Houston.

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Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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