‘Surprise Medical Bill’ debate continues

The “Surprise Medical Bill” legislation debate continues at the Georgia State Capitol.  I wrote about this issue last year and received several letters and emails from folks in the district who had experienced these unexpected bills.

These bills are one of the leading causes of families filing for bankruptcy in our country.

What is a “surprise medical bill”?

A surprise medical bill occurs when an out-of-network doctor or health care worker is a member of a treatment team during an elective procedure. One in three Americans has received one of these bills, which may be 10 times higher than one which solely involves in-network charges.

These bills are one of the leading causes of families filing for bankruptcy in our country. Surprise bills often occur in hospital or ambulatory facilities where anesthesiologists, assistants, emergency room or other specialty care providers are contracted. These contractors do not necessarily participate in all the same insurance plan networks as the facility in which they work. Patients may not receive notification that they could encounter an out-of-network provider or an estimate of what the cost of that care might be.

Proposed consumer protections

In an effort to increase transparency and eradicate surprise hospital billing for scheduled procedures, the House passed HB 678 last week. This legislation was debated in the House Insurance Committee, of which I am a member.

HB 678 would provide several consumer protections regarding health insurance and would prevent patients from receiving “surprise bills” when an out-of-network doctor participates as part of their treatment team during an elective procedure. Under HB 678, hospitals, health care providers and insurers are required to disclose to patients all participants on their treatment team and identify those outside their insurance network.

States including New York, Connecticut, Florida, Texas and California have passed laws containing surprise billing protections for consumers, and a bill was recently considered in the U.S. Congress (HR 3770).

Contact me

It is my privilege to represent the citizens of House District 28 in the Georgia General Assembly.  I would like to hear from you on this or any other issue.  Please email me at dan.gasaway@house.ga.gov or call my office at 404-656-0325.

About the author: Rep. Dan Gasaway (R-Homer) represents the 28th Georgia House District which includes portions of Banks, Habersham and Stephens Counties. He serves as Secretary of the Human Relations & Aging, Intergovernmental Coordination, and Natural Resources & Environment Committees. He is a member of the House Budget and Fiscal Affairs Oversight, Higher Education, and Insurance Committees. 

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