A patient, a doctor and a health insurance executive walk into a hospital. It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but the joke is actually on us.

Each time we walk into a hospital or an emergency room, insurance companies decide how much we’ll pay out of pocket and how much doctors and hospitals are paid for their care. If we see an out-of-network doctor in an emergency room, we pay more, doctors are paid less and insurance companies happily pocket the difference. It’s called “surprise medical billing.” The surprise, however, is purely on us.

This kind of insurance company profiteering could well push our smaller, rural hospitals over a financial cliff. Shouldn’t Congress be moving to protect patients, hospitals and doctors first? Or do insurance company campaign dollars cloud their priorities?

Bruce Bickford

Republican state representative


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