Matthew Holt

Usual, customary and made up

It’s been a while since THCB discussed usual customary and reasonable charges, and it’s been longer since health plans did much about them–other than cover them at a low rate and let providers charge what they like. That’s mostly because Ingenix (now Optum Insight) got itself and United beaten up about the topic a while back. But I noticed today (via a company selling expensive webinars about the topic) that Aetna is starting to go after providers that are gilding the Lilly on out of network charges again. In this case a couple of surgeons who were self-referring to a surgery center they owned, not charging the patients their official share, and meanwhile somehow managed to charge nearly $100K for ear wax removal. Aetna, don’t forget, was the “nice” insurer that started the trend of settling with doctors and being nice to them over pricing back in Jack Rowe’s time as CEO. If Aetna’s now starting to get aggressive about out of network charges to its members, then perhaps we really are entering a new era of health insurer activity.

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