Urgent care centers in New York State are being tasked with additional measures to ensure patients understand the costs of treatment.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman reached agreements with four New York urgent care centers this week to provide detailed information to consumers about health plan participation and in-network versus out-of-network coverage. It’s the first enforcement action of the state’s recently adopted “Surprise Bill Law,” enacted to protect consumers from unexpected medical billings and to help patients make informed choices when selecting a provider.
Alan Ayers, Vice President of Strategic Development at Practice Velocity and a Board Director with the Urgent Care Association of America, said it’s significant for urgent care centers nationwide that a large state is looking at the marketing practices of clinics.
Pricing at urgent care centers and all medical practices will come under a spotlight given the trend toward high-deductible insurance plans that make consumers more actively engaged in containing costs for their medical care.
“Urgent care is a retail delivery channel for medicine that’s focused on providing good clinical outcomes and positive patient experience, such that patients will return to the center and tell others to do likewise,” Ayers said. “Unexpected balances and other surprises in billing, especially weeks after the fact, negate any good experience that might have occurred in the center.”
He added, “urgent care centers should be as transparent as practical in their billing and collections practices, including notifying patients and collecting any financial responsibility at time of service. The reason for doing so, however, is because it makes good business sense and it’s the right thing to do, not because a regulator is watching.”
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