Q. How does a hospital go about discounting charges to patients with large medical bills?
A. In the same way that a hospital can waive collection of charges for individuals under its indigency policy, a hospital may also offer discounts to those who have large medical bills. Hospitals have flexibility in establishing their own indigency policies.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) advises that discounts to underinsured patients can raise concerns under the Federal anti-kickback statute, but only where the discounts are linked in any way to business payable by Medicare or other Federal health care programs. In addition, depending on the circumstances, discounts to underinsured patients may trigger liability under the provision of the civil monetary penalties statute that prohibits inducements offered to Medicare or Medicaid beneficiaries.
But again, if no inducement is being offered, neither statute is implicated. Further information on these fraud and abuse issues are available on the OIG Web site.
Source: Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
The analysis was to be published February 27 in The New England Journal of Medicine. It found doctors who often order tests and admit patients to hospitals drive up costs.
“The incentives are there for growth,” Elliott S. Fisher, MD, the director of the Center of Health Policy Research at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice and one of the work’s authors, told The Times.
“As long as Medicare pays for volume and intensity, that’s what you’re going to get,” Mark B. McClellan, MD, a health policy specialist at the Brookings Institution who oversaw the Medicare program during part of the previous administration, told The Times.
Obama’s plan is to extend health insurance to more Americans and control medical bills.
"We aim to get to universal coverage," administration budget aide Keith Fontenot said in The Washington Post. Obama is "open to any ideas people want to put forward. He wants to work openly with the Congress in a very inclusive process."