Patients will get notices about ‘facility fees’ starting in October

Starting in October, patients will receive advance notification if they will face extra charges for getting outpatient care at hospital-owned facilities, under a bill Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed into law.

Medical practices owned by hospitals can charge patients facility fees, which are separate from doctor bills. Many patients who received them have said they didn’t know they would be charged the fees, which can amount to hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Hospitals say the fees reflect the higher costs and standards that hospital-based practices face. The new law doesn’t stop hospitals from charging facility fees.

Instead, the measure requires that patients who schedule appointments at medical offices that charge facility fees receive plain-language notices about the fees.

Patients will also get information on the potential cost, if they’re scheduled to receive direct care and it’s clear what services they will receive.

The law requires patients who schedule appointments at least 10 days in advance to be given notice before appearing at the office. Patients whose visits are scheduled closer to the appointment will receive the notice once they arrive at the facility.

The bill passed the House and Senate unanimously earlier this year. Both state Healthcare Advocate Victoria Veltri and Attorney General George Jepsen had pushed for the measure. Jepsen’s office last year began taking complaints about facility fees, and has received nearly 80.

In a statement released after Malloy signed the bill, Jepsen praised legislators who worked on the proposal, Malloy, as well as the Connecticut Hospital Association, which worked with Jepsen’s office on the measure and supported the bill.

“I look forward to working towards additional price transparency, which is greatly needed given the rapidly changing nature of the health care system in Connecticut,” Jepsen said.