Doctors

Surprise billing proposals don't address ambulances

An ambulance on the road
Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

None of Congress' proposals to rein in surprise medical bills address ambulances — which are expensive and often aren't covered by insurance.

Why it matters: More than half of ambulance rides, and two-thirds of air ambulance transports, aren't covered by private insurance. Patients are often billed more than $10,000 for what insurance won't cover.

The U.S. has the worst patients in the world

It's easy to criticize the U.S. health care system for high spending and poor outcomes, but American patients may also be the problem, the Atlantic's David Freedman writes.

What's happening: One study found that 74% of the variation in life expectancy within the U.S. was attributable to lifestyle factors like smoking and inactivity — behaviors decided by patients, not doctors. And American patients don't like to be told they can't have expensive care, using more speciality care and emergency care than other countries.