A legislative workgroup comprised of key members of the House of Delegates and Senate of Virginia is currently studying the issue of balanced billing. Dentists and oral surgeons, who can currently balance bill, are NOT the target of the study. Rather the legislators are focused on the issue of physicians and hospitals “surprise balance billing”. The interest in the issue is quickly elevating and the clear direction by the members of the workgroup was for stakeholders to find a solution to the issue or else the legislators would find a solution that would likely be unacceptable to everyone.
How Can VDA Members Ensure We Are not Ensnared in the Debate? In 1999 the Virginia General Assembly passed VA Code § 38.2-3407.13, prohibiting insurance carriers from refusing to accept assignment of benefits executed by dentists, oral surgeons for care provided to their patients. Subsequent to the passage of this legislation, this assignment of benefit form was created for dentists and oral surgeons to use with their patients. As one of the biggest complaints cited by patients stems from the “surprise” nature of receiving a balance bill from a healthcare provider, dentists and oral surgeons should minimize do the following: 1) making sure the assignment of benefit form is used; and 2) the patient is clearly given an explanation that whatever the difference in the payment made by their dental coverage and the charge of the dentist or oral surgeon remains the responsibility of the patient. Patient notification and patient communication serve as the two greatest deterrents to attention being drawn to this code section or the rights of dentists and oral surgeons to balance bill.
Rest assured as the work of the HIRC continues through the summer and fall, their activities will remain under close monitoring by VDA leaders and staff.