Californians get better provider directories, fight continues for end to surprise bills
By Geraldine Slevin on Thursday, October 15th, 2015
California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law SB 137, an important bill that requires insurance companies and doctors in the state to keep provider directories up to date — so residents know exactly what physicians and facilities are ‘in-network’ on their plans.
SB 137 brought together an impressive coalition of supporters including health plans, labor representatives, and consumer advocates. Stories, phone calls, and thousands of letters from California consumers like you also helped convince lawmakers to pass the bill.
We heard from people like Danielle from Orange County, who checked to make sure the plan she was switching to included her oncologist, only to discover once she was already enrolled that the directory was inaccurate and her doctor wasn’t in-network for the new plan.
It’s common sense that you should be able to rely on the information provided by insurance companies to make important decisions about their healthcare. This new law will improve the timeliness, accuracy, and standardization of provider directories, requiring weekly updates and more detailed information, including information on languages spoken by providers and staff. It also holds consumers harmless if they rely on inaccurate information in a provider directory — a big step in protecting people from surprise medical bills.
Another bill we fought for this year, AB 533, failed to pass at the last minute because of pressure from specialty doctors, who pulled out all the stops to kill it. This bill would have protected consumers from out-of-network bills at in-network hospitals — the heart of our campaign to end surprise medical bills.
With your help, we’ll keep fighting for this basic protection in California and throughout the country. We believe consumers deserve protection from unexpected and potentially devastating out-of-network bills, and we need your help to make it happen.
We’ve heard from hundreds of Californians who’ve been hit with unexpected and unfair bills, and we want to hear your voice, too. If you haven’t already, sign our petition, and share your experience with surprise medical bills.