August 20, 2009 3:03 PM

Out-of-network costs cripple many patients financially

Gary Diego's story is an extreme example of what can happen in medical emergencies. Consumers who are careful to choose in-network doctors and hospitals for their routine medical care often can't choose where or how they are treated in an emergency. In a practice known as balance billing, insurers pay a portion of the out-of-network charges, and the balance owed to hospitals and doctors is dumped on patients.

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