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Opinion: Do the Math: End Hospital Dishonest Billing Practices

As the lifeblood of our state’s economy, Missouri’s small businesses are in danger of being overwhelmed by the unsustainable rate of rising healthcare costs. Already grappling with historic inflation, these engines of growth find themselves increasingly unable to hire more employees, reinvest in their communities, and grow their businesses. As lawmakers in Jefferson City look for ways to ease their collective financial burden, there’s an easy, immediate solution – eliminating “dishonest billing” by Missouri hospitals.

Hospitals are the single largest driver of healthcare costs, and it’s through practices like dishonest billing that they’re able to increase their bottom lines at the expense of Missouri families, employers, and taxpayers. Dishonest billing occurs when large corporate hospitals secretly reclassify a doctor’s office that they own as a hospital setting to charge more.

Earlier this year, the Missouri General Assembly introduced language aimed at addressing dishonest billing. As our lawmakers prepare for next year’s session, we need them to not only reintroduce this legislation but pass it and help protect their constituent small businesses from hospitals’ dishonest billing.

Hospitals should be there when we need them, but our bills should be reflective of the actual care received. It’s price markups, like dishonest billing, that allow hospitals to artificially increase healthcare costs for everyone and create completely avoidable barriers to care. Measures to eliminate dishonest billing and prevent further confusion in hospital billing practices will go a long way to address hospital markups.

Missouri’s small business community is looking to the General Assembly to fight for them and protect them from hospitals’ dishonest billing abuses that have occurred for too long. Lawmakers must hold hospitals accountable and pass legislation eliminating this practice.