Attorney General Tong Warns Healthcare Providers Could be Violating the Unfair Trade Practices Act by Charging Consumers for Personal Protective Measures(Hartford, CT) -- Attorney General William Tong is alerting consumers to surcharges by healthcare providers that may violate the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act. Healthcare providers are strongly encouraged, if not required, to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and to require that their patients do so, too. However, some providers may be improperly charging patients for the additional PPE or other COVID-19 control measures.
Attorney General Tong sent a letter this week to several healthcare provider associations and licensing boards to alert their members to the Office’s position that charging patients an additional fee for PPE constitutes illegal balance billing when the charges are assessed in connection with in-network services covered by the patients’ insurance plans. State laws prohibit participating providers from charging such fees to insured consumers.
“I understand that some healthcare providers are charging patients a fee for the additional PPE necessary to provided healthcare services during the pandemic. [T]he imposition of additional fees on patients may violate the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act’s prohibition against unfair billing practices,” the letter states.
In the letter, Tong acknowledged that many providers and consumers are facing financial challenges. “While I understand that providers have incurred additional PPE costs as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, we must recognize that many patients are also experiencing financial hardship. For those contending with job loss or reduction in hours, as well as the loss of health benefits, any cost increase is devastating. We trust that you will work with us to ensure that patients are able to receive the care they need, consistent with consumer protection law,” the letter states.
Consumers may contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division with questions or complaints. The Division will investigate and mediate a billing dispute with a healthcare provider. Complaints may be filed at https://www.dir.ct.gov/ag/complaint/ or by calling 860-808-5420.
Consumer Protection Summer Intern Sarah Purtill assisted the Attorney General in this matter.