Indiana lawmakers looking at state’s high health care costs

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP): Indiana lawmakers are calling the state’s high health care costs an economic development problem.

Republican legislative leaders plan to consider steps addressing the issue during the 2020 legislative session.

The Journal Gazette reports Indiana currently ranks highest in prices paid to hospitals by private health insurance plans, but the problem is not the actual cost or charge of a procedure — it’s ultimately what individuals are paying after insurance.

Indiana Hospital Association President Brian Tabor has been working with lawmakers, pursuing two primary takes — a transparency portal for consumers, insurers and medical professionals, and further protections against so-called surprise billing.

“It appears to have momentum,” Tabor said. “At a minimum, a person could get a benchmark — for instance, for what a typical knee replacement would cost them in northeast Indiana.”

Last month, the Trump administration announced a transparency rule that requires hospitals to publish their standard prices online, including negotiated rates for insurers and cash-discount rates.

Tabor said there is a universal agreement that the consumer shouldn’t have to pay the extra costs after following proper procedure. Instead, it should be an issue settled between the insurance and the out-of-network doctor. However, some may disagree, questioning if there should be a flat fee set for certain skills or procedures, or whether there should be more of an arbitration process with an independent third party making the decision.

House Speaker Brian Bosma says he is sure some lawmakers will make the nonprofit status of hospitals part of the discussion.

“It’s possibly worthy of that as well,” he said. “We want to make sure nonprofits are truly nonprofit. But we also don’t want to interfere with those folks that are doing the right thing.”

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