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Employees blame insurers for surprise medical bills

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How employers can help

A majority of Americans have received a surprise medical bill in the last year, and a new study provides some insight into how consumers feel about medical billing — and where they place the blame for unexpected costs.

According to the study, published by research organization NORC at the University of Chicago, the majority of respondents named insurance companies as very responsible for surprise billing, followed next by hospitals. Most of the surprise charges were for a physician’s service, followed by lab tests.

The study illustrates that despite years of conversations around price transparency and consumer-directed healthcare, the industry is still struggling to effectively educate employees about their benefits and care costs.

This illustrates the need for employers to work with a benefits broker that provides effective support in employee education. Many brokers, including Bernard Health, can help employers access additional layers of support for employees, such as a nurse on staff, medical management services, or price transparency tools.

Consumer attitudes toward insurers may also foreshadow larger trends in the industry. More and more employers are finding they can obtain better value through innovative plan designs that move away from the traditional, fully-funded group plan and provide more transparency.

While self-funding options have not always been available or competitive for small and mid-sized employer groups, this is beginning to change. More stop-loss coverage, network solutions and third-party administrators are available than ever before, and as premium rates for fully-insured plans skyrocket, these options are becoming more attractive to groups of all sizes.

More: Should my organization self-insure?

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