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Surprise billing laws may lead to increased health care costs, experts warn

New state laws designed to protect patients from being hit with steep out-of-network medical bills may contribute to higher health care costs and premiums, some researchers warn (Source: “Laws to Curb Surprise Medical Bills Might Be Inflating Health Care Costs,” Stateline, May 20).

Lawmakers and advocates who pushed for surprise billing laws say the measures have protected consumers from some of the most egregious bills, which can climb into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. But some researchers recently have raised alarms that doctors and other medical providers are leveraging state laws that rely on arbitration to increase in-network fees, thereby raising health care costs for everyone.

Eighteen states (including Ohio) have passed surprise billing laws since 2014, most of them in the past three years. Last year, former President Donald Trump signed a federal version that covers self-funded health plans, including those offered by many employers, as opposed to the individual and commercial health plans regulated by states.