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The New York Times reports that uninsured patients on average are billed 2 ½ times more than what the insured patients are billed through their insurance, and more than 3 times what is billed to Medicare patients. The result is that the uninsured are billed at full price while health plans and Medicare receive deep discounts.

As an example, a study in the May issue of Health Affairs reports that hospitals might charge $12,500 for an appendectomy but collect only $5,000 from a health insurance plan. The reason for this is that health plans can negotiate significant discounts because they can direct a large number of patients to certain hospitals by making them a part of their ‘provider network’. As a result, uninsured patients who do not have the leverage to negotiate these discounts are billed full prices and left with exorbitant hospital bills which are impossible to pay.

There have been a number of law suits filed around the country alleging price gouging as well as aggressive collection methods but thus far, there is very little legislation to protect the uninsured from these practices.

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