HHS secretary's report calls for congressional action to combat surprise billing and promote price transparency

The HHS Secretary's Report on Addressing Surprise Billing urges the passage of sound surprise billing legislation to safeguard patients and encourage a more transparent, patient-centered health care system.

The HHS Secretary's Report on Addressing Surprise Billing urges the passage of sound surprise billing legislation to safeguard patients and encourage a more transparent, patient-centered health care system. Research shows that 41% of insured adults nationwide received an unexpected medical bill in the past 2 years, and that two-thirds of adults are concerned about their ability to pay for an unexpected medical bill. An HHS rule intended to improve accessibility of health care price information is expected to take effect on January 1, 2021. It requires hospitals to create, revise, and make public, at least yearly, a list of their standard charges for items and services they provide. HHS also proposed a rule to require similar transparency from most group health plans and issuers of health insurance coverage within both the individual and group markets. "To supplement this progress, Congress must take additional action to build on the achievements of the Administration to eliminate the threat of surprise billing once and for all," HHS noted. Principles laid out by the Trump administration in May state that patients receiving emergency care should not be burdened with extra costs billed by a care provider not covered by their insurer, patients receiving scheduled care should have access to information about whether providers are in or out of their network and what costs they may face, patients should not receive surprise bills from out-of-network providers they did not select, and federal health care expenditures should not increase.