Governor Rick Scott signed legislation this month that may help curb unexpected medical debt. The bill prohibits charges from an out-of-network provider when a patient has covered emergency care or covered non-emergency care services. It also establishes a payment process for insurers to provide reimbursement for such out-of-network services.
The legislation was prompted by complaints patients made who received emergency care treatment at in-network hospitals and subsequent bills from doctors who were out-of-network. Florida’s Chief Financial Officer issued the following statement: “This new law protects consumers by holding them harmless in times of both emergency situations when choosing a provider is not an option and in non-emergency situations when communication may not be made clear regarding out-of-network providers who may be offering care. As a result, consumers are left with a more affordable bill comparable to what they would have paid if the provider had been in their network.”
Under the new law, hospitals are required to maintain information on their websites to include contact information for practitioners and practice groups contracting with the hospital. It also states the hospitals are required to provide notice that care may be provided by entities that issue separate bills and might not work with the same health insurance companies.
Bills from out-of-network providers contribute to medical debt problems among insured, non-elderly adults, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey. Nearly 7 in 10 individuals with out-of-network medical bills they cannot afford to pay did not know the healthcare provider was out-of-network at the time they received care.
The bill should take effect July 1, 2016.
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