Even In Texas, Surprise Medical Bills Still Happen

A bill passed by the Texas legislature in 2019 that went into effect January 1 was intended to protect Texans with health insurance from surprise medical billing. That’s not happening, through no fault of Texas.

According to a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a study of about 350,000 patients with nationwide insurance finds those surprise bills are still showing up on invoices after they’ve had surgery, even elective surgery when the patient confirmed their physicians and facilities were in network. It could be an anesthesiologist or an attendant. The average cost is around $2,000.

The problem, says senior analyst Stacey Pogue with the Center for Public Policy Priorities, is kinda geography. “The problem is some plans are regulated at the state capital in Austin, and some are regulated at the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC, and Congress hasn’t acted,” she tells KTRH News.

It’s a bit of a Catch-22. She says large corporations generally work with large national health insurance providers. They aren’t covered by the Texas law and Texas residents are rendered vulnerable. Smaller companies that work with smaller insurance companies probably are covered. Pogue says it’s all but impossible to know which group you’re in, until you get a bill.

Her advice is that you call Senators Cornyn and Cruz, and your U.S. congressperson, and ask them to pass a federal version of Texas’ law. It’s the only way all Texans will ever be protected.

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