Michigan Association of Health Plans

Survey Shows Strong Support to End Surprise Medical Billing 

Michigan voters strongly support ending surprise medical billing – the practice by medical providers to bill patients fees above what they thought was covered by insurers – according to polls conducted in six highly competitive state house districts by Mitchell Research & Communications for the Michigan Association of Health Plans.   

“Although this is a difficult issue to understand, when voters hear that anesthesiologists who make $425,000 annually, are trying to make an already complex issue even more complex, voters are opposed to arbitration. Thirty-eight percent of Republicans and forty-eight percent of Democrats say they are “much less likely” to vote for politicians who support arbitration. Therefore, legislators who support arbitration as a method to end surprise billing do so at their own peril,” said Steve Mitchell, President of Mitchell Research. 

The polls also found strong opposition to a proposal to require arbitration as a solution to the problem, which would make healthcare more complex. Those surveyed said they would be less likely to vote for lawmakers who support the arbitration plan. The Michigan Association of Health Plans has endorsed a solution that sets fees for providers who are out-of-system based on fees of similar providers in the geographic region where the procedure was done.  

The polls were conducted in House Districts 38, 39, 45, 61, 66, and 104 during the first week in May.  The combined number of surveys completed in all six districts was N=1,882 and the Margin of Error is + or – 2.26% at the 95% level of confidence. 

“When given a description of surprise billing, eight in ten (83%) said that they would be more likely to vote for a legislator that supports ending surprise billing. The intensity on the issue is very strong with two-thirds saying ‘much more likely’ (66%) and another one in six saying a ‘little less likely’ (17%),” said Mitchell. 

“There is very strong support among both Democrats and Republicans for legislators that are in favor of ending surprise billing. There are very few issues where we see this kind of support, especially with such high voter intensity with two-thirds saying they are ‘much more likely’ overall,” Mitchell continued. 

Another issue tested was the use of arbitration to determine how much more some doctors could charge if they were “out of network.” The use of arbitration has been pushed by anesthesiologists.   Legislators or candidates that would support arbitration put themselves in peril of not getting elected or re-elected.    

“When voters are told that anesthesiologists, who make $425,000 annually, are trying to make the system more complex by having arbitration done to see how much more money they should get, the voters are less likely (61%) to vote for a candidate who favors arbitration. More than four in ten (43%) say they are ‘much less likely’ and another one in six (18%) say they are a ‘little less likely’,” said Mitchell. 

The wording on surprise medical billing was as follows:

Some anesthesiologists, radiologists, and pathologists do not believe that the payments they receive for their services from insurance companies are large enough. Therefore, they choose to be out of network, which means they choose not to contract with insurance companies or participate in the insurance provider network. These doctors can charge higher fees than doctors in the network and still get part of the fee paid for by the insurance company. The extra part of the bill that is not paid for by insurance has to be paid for by the patient, even though the patient was never informed of the additional cost. The extra fee can be at least $1,000 and in many instances much more. This is called surprise medical billing. If a legislator voted for legislation that would END surprise medical billing, would you be more or less likely to vote for that legislator?

Much more likely          66%

Little more likely  17     83%

Little more likely  4      8%

Much less likely    4

Not Sure               10

The wording on arbitrations was as follows:

Bills are moving in Lansing to end surprise medical billing. But anesthesiologists … who make on average more than $425,000 a year … are seeking to make the health care system even more complex than it already is for their benefit. They are trying to get more money for their services than other doctors get. They want to send their bills to an arbitrator to try to get more money than what they have already been paid. These new complex changes will add $25 billion to the healthcare system over 10 years. Knowing this information, would you be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who supports the anesthesiologists in having arbitration done to determine how much extra money anesthesiologists should get above what they would normally receive from insurance companies?

Much more likely          11%

Little more likely  11     22%

Little more likely  18     61%

Much less likely    43

Not Sure               17

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