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Private Contracts Between Doctors and Medicare Patients: Key Questions and Implications of Proposed Policy Changes

Changes in Medicare’s private contracting laws could have significant implications for beneficiaries, doctors, and the Medicare program. This brief summarizes the three options that physicians and practitioners currently have for charging Medicare patients, explains how private contracting works in Medicare under current law, and reviews current proposals on changes to private contracting in Medicare, as well as their implications for patients, physicians, and the Medicare program.

Paying a Visit to the Doctor: Current Financial Protections for Medicare Patients When Receiving Physician Services

This issue brief explains provisions in current law that shield beneficiaries from unexpected and confusing charges when they see physicians and practitioners—namely, the participating provider program, limitation on balance billing, and conditions on private contracting for doctors who opt out of Medicare or join “concierge” practices. It also analyzes the implications of modifying these provisions for beneficiaries, providers, and the Medicare program.

Workplace Wellness Programs Characteristics and Requirements

This issue brief summarizes what’s known about workplace wellness programs offered by employers today and the use of financial incentives to encourage workers to participate. Findings are drawn from the KFF/HRET Annual Employer Health Benefits Survey. In addition, the brief reviews proposed changes by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in federal standards governing financial incentives by workplace wellness programs and how these changes might balance the use of incentives against other discrimination and privacy protections.

Surprise Medical Bills

This brief explores the problem of “surprise medical bills” — charges arising when an insured individual inadvertently receives care from an out-of-network provider. It reviews studies on the extent of the issue, including Kaiser Family Foundation polling data, and outlines state and federal policy responses, including rules and proposed rules for Medicare and plans in Affordable Care Act marketplaces.

JAMA Forum: Surprise, Surprise

Larry Levitt’s February 2016 post explains how “surprise medical bills” — unanticipated charges for out-of-network care – can happen. It describes some government approaches to the issue and outlines the challenges to protecting consumers. The post is now available at The JAMA Forum.

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Headquarters: 2400 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025 | Phone 650-854-9400
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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.