Independent dispute resolution offers best fix for senior citizens, rural communities to address “surprise billing” problem

Florida may be known as the Sunshine State but that it wouldn’t be unfair to call it the Senior State either. Florida has the second-highest senior population in the nation following California and the numbers keep growing.  For seniors and others living on a fixed income, health care expenses can quickly spiral out of control. The Florida Department of Elder Affairs own Profile of Older Floridians paints a bleak picture of the finances and medical coverage of seniors in the state.

Some of the scariest numbers in the Elder Affairs report are that over 923,000 Florida seniors are “medically underserved” and over 586,000 receive food stamps or SNAP. The numbers for seniors with disabilities are staggering. More than 793,000 seniors have one type of disability while an additional 872,568 seniors have two or more disabilities. This means there’s a lot of healthcare needs and a lot of healthcare visits needed in the state.

One of the scariest things for seniors who are often on fixed incomes are surprise bills, and yet those bills have become commonplace in their lives. Seniors go to a physician thinking that their healthcare coverage will cover the costs, only to find out when the bill comes that something wasn’t covered. The problem is that these bills are a direct result of poor communication and poor planning between parties who end up passing along their cost to the patients.

This can’t continue.

Congress needs to immediately rein in these burdensome costs and address the issue of surprise medical billing—an unfair practice that sticks patients with outrageously high bills for treatment or procedures they thought would be covered by insurance.

While it is undoubtedly a sign of progress that many in Congress are finally acknowledging the problem that is vexing their constituents around the nation, and are working to resolve this matter, it is extremely important for legislators to take the correct approach.

Seniors and others living on a fixed income could find themselves protected from high bills but unable to find doctors willing to care for them if current legislation under consideration becomes law. This “solution” would have a decidedly negative impact on health care access, particularly for seniors and patients living in one of Florida’s many rural communities. It is critical for Congress to make sure they don’t create a problem while trying to solve another.

Continue reading on The Capitolist.


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