23 Sep Elected Officials Release a Proposal to Cut Down on Surprise Medical Bills
A group of senators will soon release a proposed plan, “Protecting Patients from Surprise Medical Bills Act”,to try and stop unplanned medical bills. In a hospital situation, or when emergency medical care is required, many patients are billed large, unexpected charges by providers outside their health insurance network. This can happen even after insurance has paid their portion.
If the proposal passes, it would prevent other health care providers that are outside of a patient’s insurance network from charging additional fees for emergency services. The new plan will still allow for the typical charges and fees specifically covered in the insurance plan. Under the new proposal, the insurance company, not the patient, would have to pay additional charges.
The need for such a proposal began after a much publicized incident, when NPR and Kaiser Health News reported that a school teacher was charged over one hundred thousand dollars by the hospital that treated him after his heart attack. The news reported that the man and his insurance had already paid over fifty thousand for the medical attention, and then received an additional bill for over 100K.
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a sponsor of the bill, said the measure would mean patients don’t “get this surprise billing which is basically uncapped by anything but a sense of shame.”
Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are also supporting the measure.
“No American should have to file bankruptcy or fall into poverty as a result of a serious ailment or unexpected medical emergency,” Carper said in a statement. “The Affordable Care Act made great progress in reducing rates of medical bankruptcies, and this bipartisan discussion draft will build on that progress by protecting patients from surprise medical bills after they are treated in emergency situations or receive care from an out-of-network provider.”
The bill would also require health care providers to give written notification to patients who receive emergency care at an out-of-network facility, before they receive any follow-up care. This would help patients understand that they could incur extra charges that they may not have been aware of, previously, if visiting the out-of network doctor after the emergency care.
One of the biggest advantages of the new bill would be that patients would not be charged more for care from out-of-network doctor, while at a hospital that is in their network. This has been a problem for years. Oftentimes patients go to a hospital that is in their network, but they need a specialist that is on-duty at the hospital. Afterward, the patient will receive additional bills from that out-of-network specialist, too.
This proposal draft will be ready in January, 2019.
If you would like to reach out to the Georgia U.S. Senators in support of this proposed plan, you may email David Perdue and Johnny Isakson through each Senator’s website below.