Surprise medical bills: Consumers ‘need help’ from lawmakers now

Joyce Trapp said it was frightening enough that her husband, a law enforcement officer decorated for valor, suffered a brain injury in a motorcycle accident. Then came the unexpected bills.

The Loxahatchee couple had to pay more than $10,000 out of pocket, though they had insurance, she said. On top of that, collection notices began arriving. One was for $4,524. Another was for $2,377.

“I was thinking, ‘Oh my God. How am I going to pay this?’ ” she said.

This week, state legislators can pull Florida consumers from the middle of disputes between insurers and medical providers who are out of their networks, patient advocates say. They can end surprise medical bills in situations where the patient has no choice about who provides care.

On the Florida House floor, lawmakers could take up HB 221 as early as today. It is designed to limit consumer charges to the equivalent of in-network co-pays and deductibles in emergencies and other cases with restricted consumer choice. The aim is to hold consumers harmless and put the burden on out-of-network providers and health plans to work out differences on the proper payment amounts…

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