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California Hospital Pay 46 Million Settle Anesthesia Overbilling Claims

It can be difficult for patients to make sense of complex medical bills, particularly after a lengthy hospital stay. As a result, overbilling is all too common.

Most recently, Sutter Health agreed to pay $46 million to resolve allegations that it imposed false and misleading charges for anesthesia. As part of the settlement, the California hospital chain also agreed to provide more detailed pricing information to patients.

As detailed by the Los Angeles Times, the overbilling came to light after an auditor blew the whistle on the hospital’s practices. Sutter reportedly overbilled patients by including “Code 37x” anesthesia charges, which could reach thousands of dollars, even though the costs were already included in additional billing related to the hospital operating room.

The California Department of Insurance joined the suit, which was scheduled to go to trial this month. In announcing the settlement, California Insurance Commissioner, Dave Jones, characterized the case as a win for patients.

“This settlement represents a groundbreaking step in opening up hospital billing to public scrutiny,” Jones said. “This new transparency should lead to lower prices and point the way to similar billing reforms for all types of hospital services.”