FEWER SURPRISE MED BILLS - There has been a huge drop in the number of Texans calling state regulators over getting a surprise medical bill in the past six months. A new law requires medical providers and insurance companies to figure out payment disputes among themselves. Before Senate Bill 1264 went into effect, consumers were often sent a surprise bill when medical providers and health insurance companies couldn’t agree on how much a medical service should cost. And this was more likely to happen when a patient ended up in an out-of-network hospital during an emergency. Since the new law, Texans with state regulated health plans have been protected from getting surprise bills. Stephanie Goodman with the Texas Department of Insurance says consumers probably haven’t noticed the changes.
"And we have seen a tremendous decline," Goodman explained, " more than 90 percent of complaints from consumers about balance bills. So that’s great news for Texas."
Goodman says complaints from medical providers about payments are down more than 70 percent from the same period a year ago. Goodman says most payment disputes are coming from emergency room physicians. She says that is likely due to the elective surgery bans during the pandemic.