Hospitals, Blues plan battle over radiology billing

Hospitals and the North Carolina Blues are in a battle over billing for radiology, reported the Charlotte News and Observer. The dispute centers on what is known as the "technical component" of MRIs or ultrasounds, where multiple images are taken.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is contending that hospitals and other providers are charging fees that average $1,746 for each image, causing billing to mount, the newspaper reported. The health plan claims it is costing $16 million a year in additional charges.

"It's unfair for our members to pay more than once for items only supplied one time," Barbara Morales Burke, vice president of Health Policy for Blue Cross, told the newspaper.

The practice is even being criticized by consumer advocates, who fear their constituents will suffer financially as the result of such disputes, according to the News and Observer.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services plans to cut reimbursement to physicians who charge for multiple images starting in 2013, reported DotMed. But radiology trade groups are pushing back against the cuts.

To learn more:
- read the News and Observer article
- here's the DotMed article