Thursday, March 24, 2011

Man Bites Dog

In a headline worthy of "man bites dog", or "pot calls kettle black", we have this tidbit about Aetna.

Hartford managed care provider Aetna Inc. is suing six New Jersey doctors over medical bills it calls "unconscionable," including $56,980 for a bedside consultation and $59,490 for an ultrasound that typically costs $74, Bloomberg News reports.

The lawsuits could help determine what pricing limits insurers can impose on "out-of-network" physicians who don't have contracts with health plans that spell out how much a service or procedure can cost, the online news service said.

One defendant billed $30,000 for a Caesarean birth, and another raised his fee for seeing a critically ill patient in a hospital to $9,000 in 2008 from $500 the year before, the insurer alleges in the suits. The Caesarean price was more than 10 times the in-network amount Aetna quotes on its website.

"If these charges are accurate, consumers and purchasers should be outraged," said David Lansky, president of the San Francisco-based Pacific Business Group on Health, a coalition of health-insurance buyers that includes Chevron Corp., Walt Disney Co. and General Electric Co.

Lawyers for the doctors declined to comment on specific charges in the suits, and said their clients did nothing wrong, Bloomberg reports.

We now return you to your regular programming.

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