Overall, Blue Shield said, it expects to have new measures in place by next month to better address these out-of-network billing issues for certain employer health plans. It also said employers should do more to encourage workers to use in-network facilities that are paid negotiated rates.
The Long Beach school district expressed frustration at the teacher's bill, but it echoed Blue Shield's explanation that it will incur additional costs at times because it has promised employees out-of-network benefits.
"This out-of-network issue regarding surgery centers is one that we want to explore with our employee groups in the next bargaining cycle," said Chris Eftychiou, a district spokesman.
Joe Boyd, executive director of the Teachers Assn. of Long Beach, said there is nothing in the employee contract to prevent the school district and Blue Shield from rejecting inflated medical bills.