U.S. Patients Blindsided By Telehealth Appointments That Charge A Facility Fee

U.S. patients are being blindsided by telehealth costs and many are facing facility fees even though they haven’t stepped foot in a hospital or physician’s office, The Washington Post reported April 1.

An individual told The Washington Post that she was charged $676.86 for her son’s one-hour virtual visit with a specialist at Aurora-based Children’s Hospital Colorado and another $847.35 for being seen in a hospital, although the appointment was made via telehealth.

These facility fees have spurred states such as Colorado, Connecticut, Ohio, Texas, Indiana, Minnesota, Washington and New Hampshire to try to introduce bills that place limitations on certain facility fees.

For instance, Colorado lawmakers have proposed a bill that would ban healthcare facilities from charging facility fees for primary care visits, preventive care services and telehealth appointments.

The bill would also require hospitals to notify patients if there is a facility fee.

But hospitals such as Aurora, Colo.-based UC Health and Children’s Hospital Colorado, which rely on the University of Colorado School of Medicine for staffing, wouldn’t be able to receive payment for outpatient services covered by the ban, according to Dan Weaver, vice president of communications for UC Health.

“The professional fee goes solely to the provider and, very frequently, they are not employed by us,” said Mr. Weaver. “None of that supports the clinic or the staff members.”

Mr. Weaver said banning hospitals from billing for facility fees for primary care services and telehealth would “cause significant problems for patients.”

Backers of the bill disagree stating that patients are the ones facing the burden for facility fees as most have to pay for them out-of-pocket.


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