COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado lawmakers are looking to prevent hospitals from charging "facility fees" when it comes to billing for certain healthcare services.
According to the Colorado Hospital Association, facility fees are charges made to patients that go towards the cost of paying nurses, the physical hospital building, and other costs of running the hospital.
"These payments are not some extra add-on, they're not new," Julie Lonborg, a spokesperson for the Colorado Hospital Association said, “it really varies based on the care provided, much like all of healthcare."
The variability in the cost of these fees is one of the reasons people like Ben Los in Colorado Springs want to see more regulation.
"This is basically mustache-twirlingly evil villainous type stuff to just go around robbing the poor, robbing the middle class as well", Los said. His son received an electroencephalogram (EEG) test at a hospital in Denver last year.
Los received one bill in the mail costing about $200.
"That seemed reasonable, that seemed fair, that's the charge after insurance and so we gladly paid that," said, Los. A couple of days later he received a bill for more than $2,500.
Absolutely shocked by the bill, Los decided to call the hospital's billing department to figure out where this second charge was coming from. After a few calls he got the answer, all be it, one he did not want to hear.
"They explained you have one bill to pay the hospital staff and then another bill to charge the hospital," said Los, "I was like well it's self-evident why we need to pay the medical staff, but why do we need to pay the hospital?! Is it because we walked through their doors, apparently yes."
Lonborg the fees are typical for "outpatient" or same-day care at hospitals. She believes more people are enrolling in high-deductible health plans and now noticing these types of fees.
"I think that people who have these high deductible health plans are looking at their bills in a different way because they're responsible for the first couple thousand dollars worth of those bills and so they're looking more carefully", said Lonborg.
State lawmakers are now looking to ban these types of fees for outpatient services. As well as additional requirements when it comes to transparency for these types of fees for patients.
House Bill 23-1215 is sponsored by Colorado Representatives Emily Sirota (Denver-D) and Andrew Boesenecker (Fort Collins-D). The bill would prohibit hospitals to charge facility fees if the care provided was through telemedicine. It would also ban facility fees for procedures that can be performed somewhere other than a hospital.
Lonborg says the concern among hospitals with this bill is how it could impact outpatient care and the cost to run hospitals.
"Colorado has been really successful moving a lot of stuff from an inpatient setting to outpatient settings, this will disrupt all of that", said Lonborg.
Ben Los, supports the change in state law and says these fees are being used to add on hidden costs.
"I don't know exactly where the money is going until someone can give me a specific path to be traced," said Los.
The bill is scheduled for a committee hearing March 17th.
Watch KOAA News5 on your time, anytime with our free streaming app available for your Roku, FireTV, AppleTV and Android TV. Just search KOAA News5, download and start watching.