For years, we’ve made the case that the uninsured actually get charged *more* than anybody else in the health care system. Because they don’t have the group purchasing power of an insurer or a public program, those typically with the least get charged the most–the “sticker price” which the insurers and public programs always pay less than.
Our advocacy over the past few years has been to correct this with regard to drugs (last year’s AB2911) and hospital bills (last year’s AB774). And now there is some movement on doctor’s visits. Barbara Feder at the San Jose Mercury News reports on a new lawsuit against ER doctors.
When we did our work against hospital overcharging, we found that uninsured patients would typically get several bills from an emergency room visit, not just from the hospital but from the ER doctor, any specialist that was involved in the care provided, the ambulance company, etc. While the hospital bill was by far the biggest bill (and because these smaller providers seem to be more aggressive in billing and collections), patients were likely to pay the smaller bills first, without realizing it was also inflated.
Lieff Cabraser, the law firm, had done some of the previous class actions against hospital chains like Sutter and Catholic Healthcare West, which resulted in settlements for consumers. So this is no frivolous lawsuit.