ACEP Takes Issue with NEJM Report
Friday, November 18, 2016
Posted by: TCEP
The New England Journal of Medicine published a “study” stating that emergency physicians submit exorbitant balance bills to patients, in one case as high as $19,000. It alleges an "average" physician charge of 798 percent of Medicare rates.
ACEP distributed a press release critical of the study, and I was quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal.
Our video parodying the Cigna "TV Doctors" ad went out the day before the NEJM report, purely coincidentally, prompting media to contact ACEP for commentary on the article. Forbes published a story on our video and included a link a day before the NEJM study appeared. Several other smaller outlets also covered it and more media coverage continues to roll in. An NBC story featured clips from our parody video and included a screen grab of our website, FairCoverage.org.
In addition to letters to the editor sent to The New York Times, Washington Post and Politico that dispute the study, ACEP also will be responding directly to the NEJM editors. We also see an opportunity here to help educate the media (and other interested groups) about the balance billing issue through some sessions or webinars.
The NEJM study was produced by economist researchers at Yale, which also has lots of money to promote its research. At least one of the study authors has taken money in the past from the National Institute for Health Care Management, which is funded by the insurance industry.
The public - and all of America - does not understand the differences between deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance, balance bills, etc. All they know is they fear a possible big bill they don't anticipate after an emergency, and the insurance companies are playing on this fear.
We are in a David and Goliath fight with the multi-billion dollar health insurance industry, and have been for years. We have sued the federal government, and with our terrific state chapters, we have been battling this issue state by state. We are a small organization; but we have fought this before with EMTALA and the prudent layperson definition of an emergency during the HMO battles.
ACEP and emergency physicians care about fair, and affordable, coverage for our patients. ACEP will continue this fight and others like these that matter most to you and your patients. We are dedicated to protecting you and your patients, and shaping the future of emergency medicine.
Thank you for all you do every day,
Dr. Becky Parker