People Are Trying This Tactic To Fight Surprise Medical Bills. Does It Really Work?

Leah Bourne
Updated: March 3, 2020

We’ve all heard the horror stories of people getting hit with thousand dollar bills after getting a Band-Aid at the hospital or a six-figure bill for getting an X-Ray. It’s scary for patients who are heading to the hospital, which likely explains why so many patients are trying to take matters into their own hands so this doesn’t happen to them.

The New York Times is reporting that increasingly patients are writing in their own payment limits on hospital treatment and consent forms. Their story detailed one particular anecdote of a woman who on an ER visit with her husband crossed out the language on a consent form that says a patient must pay whatever amount the hospital charges to say that she would pay the “maximum two times” what the government would pay under Medicare.

That “maximum two times” what the government would pay under Medicare is something that Al Lewis, the chief executive of healthcare education Quizzify suggests is fair and reasonable. Interestingly, Lewis has even created downloadable wallet cards for people to carry with them so they know exactly what to write on consent forms if they are in the hospital.

Is this legal? Well, it might work, it might not. The reason it might not work is because contracts require mutual consent to be valid and writing in your own language doesn’t meet this standard. The flip side of this is that that these consent forms are already pretty dubious given that people are usually not sure what they are signing which in many cases invalidates them. Weighing that side of things, this tactic might hold up.

Any way that you look at this it is a pretty interesting development of people trying to take medical bills into their own hands.

Feature Image: Twenty20