Huge Victory! Florida Governor Enacts Surprise Medical Bill Protection into Law

Daniela Nuñez
Social Media Program Manager

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Today we celebrate a major victory in your campaign to end surprise medical bills! Just minutes ago, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed HB 221 into law which will ensure that consumers in both emergency and non-emergency situations are not held responsible for out-of-network rates if they don’t have the ability or opportunity to be treated by a participating provider. We applaud the Governor and Florida lawmakers for listening to the thousands of Floridians who took action and shared their stories. Without your action, we would not have been able to convince lawmakers to stand with consumers against powerful special interests. This victory shows that when consumers get organized, we can win!

When you joined our End Surprise Medical Bills campaign in Florida, you shared your powerful stories with local media about how out-of-network surprise medical bills cost you thousands of dollars, time, and stress you had no control over. By taking consumers out of the middle of billing disputes between insurers and providers, this new law puts the power back with the people, so you can have more control over your healthcare costs.

Now that we won in Florida, it’s time we work hard to make progress in other states. Twenty-three states are paying attention, and some have legislation pending, that would help you get the protections you need. If you live in Florida, celebrate your victory and encourage your friends in other states to join our campaign by signing our petition here. It’s time lawmakers across the country know that consumers can’t be ignored.  Thank you for taking action!  

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7 responses to “Huge Victory! Florida Governor Enacts Surprise Medical Bill Protection into Law”

  1. Lynne Maurer says:

    Is this new law only for emergency situations or for any procedure performed at a in-network facility? For example – an outpatient procedure being done at an in-network facility, by an in-network doctor, but it is not known if the Anesthesiologist and/or Pathologist are in the network or not.

  2. Kerry S. says:

    Now that this has been passed. How are you going to help the labs that are out of network due to the insurance companies being closed to new labs. Including pathology. For those who don’t know what pathology is it is the examination of tissue taken during a procedure or surgery to see if it is cancerous. I don’t want to wait 2 weeks like a large lab that is highly used because they are in network. When there is smaller labs that offer 24 hour turn around so your physician can offer the best and quickest treatment available. I work at such a lab and we have been trying to become in network but the insurance groups are not wanting to open up the network. We actually bill the patients only the in network rates. This surprise bill was not a State issue as much as it is an insurance issue. Take a look at BC/BS and see that Independent Laboratory section is closed to new labs. I don’t want a surprise bill either but I would like to be able to control my samples and treatment more than is allowed now a days.

    • Conor Laing says:

      Hi Kerry, thank you for your comment. The new law in Florida allows patients to use out-of-network services as long as they receive notice of those out-of-network services. The purpose of this law is to prevent consumers from being held responsible for out-of-network charges when they had no control over the situation, not to prevent them from seeking the care they need. Consumers Union supports strong health insurance network adequacy standards to help make it more likely patients can get the care they need in-network rather than having to go out-of-network.

  3. Neil Jurman says:

    We recently moved to Florida and retired. We had no participating doctors who coild see us because they weren’t taking new patients the clinic refused to treat her more than once. We got a huge emergency bill after waiting 4 hours for a 10minute doctor. Will yhis count if it happened last month?

    • Conor Laing says:

      Hi Neil, I’m sorry you’ve had to go through this. Unfortunately, the law does not go into effect until July 1 and does not apply to surprise medical bills received before that law takes effect. Try contacting the Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate’s office at this url: http://www.myfloridacfo.com/Division/ICA/. They might be able to help by talking to your insurer and provider. Also, Florida has previously banned surprise medical billing for HMOs. If you are covered by an HMO, you should be protected and the Insurance Consumer Advocate should be able to help.

  4. Congratulations! Thank you for watching out for the consumers in healthcare. I am hoping California follows Florida’s lead.

  5. Emily Paterson says:

    Just read about this on National Organization for Medical Malpractice Victims. Thanks for trying to improve patient care. Having run into terrible healthcare problems for a child in NC, I am grateful for every step in the right direction for another family.

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