'Drive-by doctoring' brings huge, surprise medical bills

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'Drive-By Doctoring' Brings Huge, Surprise Medical Bills

A growing trend among doctors might make you scared to seek medical attention for serious issues.

It's called "drive-by doctoring" but instead of hurting you physically, it goes after your wallet.

It allows consultants and doctors who are "out-of-network" providers to charge patients up to 40 times more for a procedure that could otherwise be done by a doctor at the hospital.

For example, removing a gallbladder would usually cost less than $2,000 if done by an in-network doctor. But an out-of-network doctor could charge $44,000.

Current laws within the U.S. don't require that patients give consent to every medical person that contributes to their treatment.

The New York Times covered a few instances.

Peter Drier had neck surgery and knew the procedure would be pricey - But when he noticed a separate bill of $117,000 from a doctor he never met... he had some questions.

Turns out it came from Dr. Harrison Mu, an "out-of-network" neurosurgeon who reportedly helped with the surgery, but his assistance could have been done by a hospital resident.

And a New Jersey woman was charged a quarter of a million dollars by two plastic surgeons who sewed up an incision after her back surgery.

But it's not just procedures that can be questionably billed.

According to the Medical Billing Advocates of America, more than 80% of medical bills contain errors, which can cost patients thousands of dollars. But one of the biggest problems is still this "drive-by doctoring."

Insurers have sued or refused to work with surgeons who charge the absurd fees, and a few states are offering legal protection against it, but it's always in your best interest to consult with insurance companies and doctors before receiving medical treatment.
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