Insurance lawsuit
9:51 am
Tue January 11, 2011

WashU sued over billing practices

Steven Powell wants to change the way health care providers charge for their product.

Powell, a factory worker, filed suit Friday challenging a billing practice known as balance billing.

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

In "balance billing," a health care provider bills the patient directly for the difference between what a health insurance carrier is willing to pay and the total amount charged by a hospital, doctor's office or laboratory. The suit contends that Washington University and other providers charge exorbitant prices to patients for "out of network" care, not fully covered by their insurance policies.

In simple language? The suit challenges the ability of health care providers to charge different prices for healthcare based on who is picking up the tab - the government, a private insurer, or the individual.

The suit is based on the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, which deals with consumer fraud.

Powell's case number is 1122-cc00050. It's been assigned to Judge Steven Russell Ohmer.