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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Johns Hopkins: Patients Face ‘Surprise’ Medical Bills From Out-of-Network Specialists

The average anesthesiologist, emergency physician, pathologist, and radiologist charge more than four times what Medicare pays for similar services, often leaving privately insured consumers stuck with surprise medical bills that are much higher than they anticipated, new research in JAMA suggests.

The problem is that most patients do not actually choose these doctors with the highest markups, allowing them no opportunity to anticipate how high their bills will be, say the researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.

After anesthesiologists (charging six times what Medicare pays), the interventional radiologists (4.5 times), emergency medicine doctors (four times), pathologists (four times), neurosurgeons (four times) and diagnostic radiologists (3.8 times) have the highest markups. Those specialties with the lowest markups are internists, psychiatrists, and family doctors — physicians with whom patients have the most interactions and whom they are most likely to actually choose.

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