EDITOR: Surprise medical bills have become summer 2019’s hottest ticket if television ads are to be trusted. When patients seek emergency care outside their insurance network, unforeseen bills can result. When patients cannot afford to pay, insurers and doctors are stuck having to negotiate. Congress is scheduled to consider legislation dealing with these surprise medical bills after its summer recess.
But the remedy currently contemplated by many lawmakers—government price controls—is highly misguided. Other government programs, such as Medicaid, rely on price controls. We see the results. Doctors who serve Medicaid patients must do so at highly discounted rates. As a result, many doctors refuse to serve the Medicaid population. Medicaid beneficiaries then have access to far fewer quality providers. Subjecting yet another group of medical procedures—in this case, procedures that result in unpaid surprise medical bills—to price controls will make matters worse. Price controls result in shortages. That means less access to quality care for patients and even more distortions of the medical market place.
Lawmakers should say no to more price controls and look for a better way to resolve surprise medical bills.
— Nancy Doty, Littleton via [email protected]