By Stephanie Stokes, WABE
Georgia state lawmakers are trying to figure out how to stop surprise medical billing.
It happened to Vicki Willard. She went to the emergency room to check on a heart issue.
“I was admitted to the hospital, in network, things went well,” Willard said.
Then, weeks later, she got something unexpected in the mail.
“After I’ve paid all my regular bills, I see a bill come across my desk for $700,” Willard said.
It turns out, one of the cardiologists who treated her was outside her insurance network.
Willard is the wife of a state lawmaker. She was testifying as a citizen to the Senate’s Health and Human Services committee.
The lawmakers there are working on legislation to curb unforeseen medical costs.
“I just don’t think it’s fair when you’re laying there, you’re fixing to get your shoulder injected and the anesthesiologist comes in,” said state Sen. Renee Unterman. “And anesthesiology is number one for surprise billing.”
Unterman’s bill would require hospitals be upfront about out-of-network costs. It would also give patients a way to challenge unexpected bills.
However, the legislation’s worrying providers and insurers. Hospitals say it can be difficult to figure out which doctors are in a patient’s network.
Another big question is who will pay for out-of-network costs, if not the patient.
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