Jepsen launches complaint form for patients charged facility fees

Attorney General George Jepsen is seeking information from patients who were charged “facility fees” by health care providers.

Patients who were charged facility fees without receiving notice or weren’t told what the fees would cost can submit complaints using a form available through the attorney general’s office. The form is available by clicking here.

Jepsen plans to propose legislation requiring that providers give patients more information if they will be charged a facility fee.

Facility fees are charges patients can receive if they have in-office procedures performed at medical offices owned by a hospital, or that use hospital-owned equipment. The fees are in addition to what doctors bill for their services, and in some cases, cost unsuspecting patients thousands of dollars.

Hospital officials say the facility fees are necessary to cover the overhead costs of the practices and hospital, and the higher standards that hospital-owned practices meet. Some say it’s challenging to tell patients what they will be charged because it varies depending on their insurance coverage and whether they have to meet a deductible.

Jepsen’s legislative proposal will likely focus on facility fees charged by previously independent medical practices, free-standing ambulatory surgical centers, or urgent care centers that have been acquired by hospitals. In some cases, patients who have gone to those facilities have not known they were acquired by hospitals and didn’t realize they would face higher charges because of it.

Jepsen said people with questions about the complaint forms, or who would prefer to speak to a member of the attorney general’s staff, can call 860-808-5355.

He also urged people to ask specific information about their physician practices when seeking care.

“Patients should ask their providers before receiving services: Is your practice owned by a hospital?” Jepsen said in a statement. “How much will you charge for the office visit and treatment, is there a hospital facility fee in addition to your professional fee, and if so, how much is that fee? In this period of rapid consolidation in the healthcare industry, it’s important for patients, as healthcare consumers, to take proactive steps in order to make fully informed choices about their care.”

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