Several states across the country are beginning to crack down on ‘facility fees’ as healthcare costs continue to climb higher and higher.

Facility fees are the charges patients receive for using a facility owned by a hospital.

For example, if you go to an outpatient orthopedic practice that is owned by a major hospital system, you could be charged for using the orthopedic facility.

Facility fees are charged on top of what you pay to see the doctor.

It’s the cost to walk through the door.

As more outpatient practices have been acquired by major hospital systems, facility fees have expanded.

The result is greater out-of-pocket costs and higher premiums.  

Many states have had enough and are passing laws to do something about it.

Some states have banned the fees outright, while others have limited the prohibition to outpatient settings.

Other have specified that the fees cannot be charged for telehealth care or preventive services.

What’s stopping North Carolina from stepping in to protect consumers from these unjustified and often hidden costs?

The power of the hospital lobby.

“It is hard to overstate the sway of the hospital industry, and the vehemence with which the industry leverages its power to protect hospitals’ financial interests,” said a report by Georgetown University.  

“Hospitals are not going to take less money without a knockdown drag out fight,” said one employer representative.

In Indiana, the hospital industry threatened to pull nurses out of public schools if the state pursued facility fee reforms.

It is no secret that the hospital lobby wields great strength at the North Carolina General Assembly.

But so do consumers.

“In states, what we've really seen is success and momentum in addressing hospital billing and hospital prices with a frame of protecting consumers and shielding people from unjustified out-of-pocket costs,” said Lisa Hunter, senior director for policy and external affairs at USofCare.

This is the path North Carolina should take.

Protect consumers from unwarranted fees that drive up their monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs.

It shouldn’t cost anyone money just to walk through the doors of their doctors office.

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