Class-Action Suit Takes on Physician Fees for Care in EDs
A class-action lawsuit filed in Alameda County Superior Court this week alleges that an emergency department physicians group charged patients "unfair, unreasonable and inflated" prices because they were uninsured, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
The lawsuit could have implications for how much uninsured patients are billed for ED treatment at 55 hospitals in California. While insured patients pay a discounted rate negotiated by insurers, Californians without coverage are left to foot the full bill.
Of the two patients who filed the suit, one was uninsured and the other was insured but may have experienced a gap in her coverage, according to the Mercury News.
The patients contend they were billed "list prices" that did not reflect the actual cost of their care and exceeded what insured patients would have paid.
The lawsuit was filed against the California Emergency Physicians Medical Group, now known as CEP America. The group contracts with hospitals statewide to staff EDs.
Wes Curry, president of CEP America, said the group had not yet received anything "official" regarding the lawsuit, adding, "We're confident that our billing practices are proper."
A similar case last year forced Sutter Health and Catholic Healthcare West to change pricing policies for uninsured patients at hospitals across California (Feder Ostrov, San Jose Mercury News, 12/6).