Doctors nationwide fight for the right to return to "balance billing" in which case patients would be responsible for costs not allowed by Medicare .or private insurance. The Doctors claim declining revenues have not kept pace with costs, making a return to balance billing imperative. Some doctors who support balance billing say that "we offer a service and we should be paid for it; you may have no choice," because you may find that you have no doctor if our costs are not covered.
Insurance companies who oppose balance billing say it would destroy gains made in holding down rising premium costs. AARP is against the concept, describing balance billing as nothing more than a cost shift that will hurt patients.
Doctors had the right to balance-bill until 1989, when states and Congress began putting limits on how much they could bill back to patients above the co-payment and reimbursement amounts approved by Medicare. Few in the general public were aware of the change. Traditional insurance and managed-care plans soon followed suit. Ever since, the American Medical Association and other physician groups tried repeatedly to have unlimited balance billing rights reinstated.
On December 3, the American Medical Association voted in favor of renewing the fight for balance billing which they say is more critical than ever because of a ten percent cut in Medicare doctors’ reimbursements set for July 1.
Donna Wright, Bradenton Herald, P1, Feb.3