Hartford managed care provider Aetna Inc. is suing six New Jersey doctors over medical bills it calls “unconscionable,” including $56,980 for a bedside consultation and $59,490 for an ultrasound that typically costs $74, Bloomberg News reports.
The lawsuits could help determine what pricing limits insurers can impose on “out-of-network” physicians who don’t have contracts with health plans that spell out how much a service or procedure can cost, the online news service said.
One defendant billed $30,000 for a Caesarean birth, and another raised his fee for seeing a critically ill patient in a hospital to $9,000 in 2008 from $500 the year before, the insurer alleges in the suits. The Caesarean price was more than 10 times the in-network amount Aetna quotes on its website.
“If these charges are accurate, consumers and purchasers should be outraged,” said David Lansky, president of the San Francisco-based Pacific Business Group on Health, a coalition of health-insurance buyers that includes Chevron Corp., Walt Disney Co. and General Electric Co.
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Lawyers for the doctors declined to comment on specific charges in the suits, and said their clients did nothing wrong, Bloomberg reports.