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UnitedHealth balance billing change could hit consumers with unexpected big bills


Minnesota-based UnitedHealth has changed its balance billing practice, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The practice refers to the difference between the provider's charge and the amount allowed by the insurer. In an effort to drive down costs, the insurer will not cover the entirety of bills for out-of-network emergency room physicians and specialists even though they sometimes work for hospitals in UnitedHealth's network. Prior to this change, the insurer would pay almost all of the bill from out-of-network doctors who worked at an in-network hospital. The change stems from the insurer's concern that "some hospital-based physicians are establishing out-of-network strategies to seek excessively high reimbursement levels, sometimes more than 10 times what an in-network physician would charge for the same service," UHC said in a statement to the Post-Dispatch. The change could stick consumers with thousands of dollars in unexpected bills. Article