Health care has become a $3.5 trillion economy in the United States as prices for medical services have reached record-high levels.1,2 This spending is straining households, as in the past decade patients have been increasingly asked to pay a greater out-of-pocket share of costs for medical services. A 2019 report from the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that analyzed a national representative sample of 5 million consumers found that more than 25% of individuals had delinquent debt on their credit reports, with medical bills accounting for 58% of all debt.3 In a 2018 survey of 1513 patients with stage IV breast cancer, 50% reported that they had been contacted by debt collectors regarding a medical bill, suggesting their medical bills were significantly overdue.4 High medical prices and billing practices may reduce public trust in the medical profession and can result in the avoidance of care. In a survey of 1000 patients, 64% reported that they delayed or neglected seeking medical care in the past year because of concern about high medical bills.5 The field of quality science in health care has developed measures of medical complications; however, there are no standardized metrics of billing quality.
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Mathews SC, Makary MA. Billing Quality Is Medical Quality. JAMA. 2020;323(5):409–410. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.19648
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