House passes ‘surprise billing’ measure

[private]The Georgia House voted 164-1 Monday to pass legislation (HB 678) that would mitigate the financial impact of “surprise billing” of medical patients.

The measure now moves to the state Senate.

Surprise billing occurs when a person goes to the hospital for a procedure, with the hospital and doctor both in the insurance company’s network. The patient later gets a large, unexpected bill from a healthcare provider, such as an anesthesiologist, who is not in the network.

“This way they can charge you whatever they want to,” said Rep. Richard Smith (R-Columbus). “Sometimes 10 to 12 times higher than in-network charges.”

“It’s an issue that’s a tremendous burden to the people of Georgia,” Smith said.

HB 678 would apply to scheduled medical procedures, not to emergency treatment. It would require that the patient be told in advance whether a doctor is in network or not and what the insurance will pay. The patient could then switch to another hospital.

The bill would require patients to be billed by the out-of-network provider within 90 days and then have 90 days to work it out with the hospital and the insurer. The matter could also be referred to a dispute resolution process.

© 2018 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Richard Smith , surprise medical billing