Horizon urges members to avoid hospital due to high fees

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey has asked its members not to use the Bayonne Medical Center because the hospital charges "exorbitantly high" fees.

In a letter to its members, Horizon alleges that inpatient services have more than doubled from $13,000 a day to $28,000 since the medical center pulled out of the Horizon Hospital network in February 2009. The letter argues that excessive charges push up premiums for consumers and urges customers to ask their physicians to refer them to hospitals that are in the Horizon network, according to the Jersey Journal.

"These costs ripple across the entire healthcare system, and ultimately it's the overburdened insurance consumer who has to pay the price for exorbitant charges," Horizon spokesman Thomas Vincz said.

In May 2009, Horizon filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the Bayonne Medical Center claiming the hospital's policy of accepting what the insurer reimburses, and not billing patients for the balance, was unlawful because there was no incentive for patients to use an "in-network" hospital. In September 2009, Bayonne Medical Center announced it would change its policy and hold patients accountable for the amount an insurance company does not pay. However, Horizon is still pursuing its lawsuit, the Jersey Journal notes.

To learn more:
- read the Jersey Journal story

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