Hidden fees hitting patients

Feb 25, 2014

Patients who receive treatment at physician practices and outpatient clinics owned by large healthcare companies are being hit by bills for “hospital services,” even though they didn’t set foot in the hospital, the Miami Herald reports. And it’s legal.

Linda Drake, 57, of Miami received a $210 bill after seeing a doctor at an outpatient clinic owned by UHealth, part of the University of Miami. Her private insurer wouldn’t pay it.

This extra fee, which the industry calls “provider-based billing,” was okayed by Medicare officials a decade ago as hospitals built outpatient centers. It’s designed to help with overhead -- nursing care, supplies, clerical support, etc., the Herald reported

This kind of facility fee has become a frequent annoyance lately, now that hospital systems are buying up physician group practices and free-standing clinics that were once on their own, the Herald said.