HEALTHCARE EXPERT: Here's how to avoid getting hit with surprise medical bills

Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal is the editor-in-chief of Kaiser Health News, author of “An American Sickness,” and is a former physician herself. We asked her how to avoid getting huge surprise medical bills.

Following is a transcript of the video:

DR. ELISABETH ROSENTHAL: One thing I always tell patients when you’re going into a doctor’s office, talk to your doctor and say, “If I need lab tests, if I need an X-ray, will you send me to a facility that’s in-network?” Because that’s where people get hit with big surprise charges.

So, if you say to your doctor, “Always send my blood test to an in-network lab,” you’ll save yourself a lot of aggravation.

Your doctor may have to fill out an extra form because if he works with a hospital, his computer may be automatically set to default to ordering at the hospital lab. When he checks off boxes on an order sheet, there are no prices next to those boxes. I hear complaints from doctors all the time, “You know, I didn’t know the hospital, or the lab, was going to charge this much.”

One of the inflationary mechanisms in our system is that doctors have no idea. They have no idea when they’re ordering a test, how much it costs. The patient is going to get stuck with those bills.

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