Most people in Mississippi choose hospitals within their insurance networks to avoid higher medical bills. Despite their best efforts, they still might end up paying surprise out-of-network fees. A nationwide study from the Health Care Cost Institute has revealed that patients using in-network hospitals frequently get unexpected charges from out-of-network physicians and laboratories.

Health care consumers have no way to protect themselves from out-of-network services even when they seek care at in-network facilities. Even if patients make inquiries in advance of an admission, the hospital likely has no ability to give a clear answer about the network status of all service providers involved in the care. The increasing complication of insurance contracts and tiered networks creates an opaque environment where consumers cannot have certainty about coverage.

The study found that anesthesiologists were a large source of out-of-network charges from medical professionals. This medical specialty represented 16.5 percent of surprise bills. Independent laboratories, however, took the top spot by producing 22.1 percent of all surprise medical bills.

A medical crisis can inflict financial hardship through both loss of income and high medical bills. A person might fall behind on utility bills and house payments while trying to pay hospital bills. Under these circumstances, debts can pile up quickly. At this point, a legal consultation regarding debt relief could reveal strategies for coping with the problem. An attorney might recommend actions like negotiating a manageable repayment plan. If a court needs to be involved, then an attorney could prepare legal paperwork and strive to protect the client from creditors.

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