Imagine getting an unanticipated $800 hospital bill you’re not able to pay. After weeks of daily phone calls trying to collect the unpaid money, the only option you’re given is to split the payment into two, which is also not feasible.
Trying to pay a surprise medical bill can wreak havoc on a person.
For some speaking at Assembly Health and Human Services Committee hearing Wednesday, surprise medical bills are a harsh reality.
With days left before proposed legislation has to pass out of committee to survive, lawmakers heard a bill that would begin to tackle unforeseen medical bills.
Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, who presented Assembly Bill 469 Wednesday, said the bill was a compromise that took into consideration the concerns of health insurance and medical providers while taking the patient out of the middle.
Among some of its provisions, the legislation says if a person has health insurance but somehow ends up at an out-of-network provider during a medical emergency, the out-of-network provider is prohibited from charging more than what the person would have paid in network. The bill also requires medical providers to move a patient to an in-network facility within 24 hours of a person becoming stable.
If the now out-of-network provider previously had a contract with the insurer, the legislation also leaves insurers on the hook to pay a percentage of the contracted rate — if the contract was within 12 months, they have to pay 108 percent of the rate.