NPR Takes a “Closer Look” at Surprise Medical Bills in Georgia

Madeleine Anderson
Assistant Policy Analyst

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

It’s no surprise that surprise medical bills are infuriating consumers all across the country. As a result, more and more states are stepping forward to fight for legislative protections against this unfair billing practice. Jim Burress of Atlanta’s NPR station WABE recently took some time to investigate what’s been stirring in Georgia, and reports his findings on February 2nd’s edition of “Closer Look”.

Burress begins by sharing the too familiar story of a patient, Dana Pass, who took her husband to a local in-network hospital to receive a screening test to determine whether or not he had bladder cancer. During this test, her husband received services from an out-of-network anesthesiologist, and along with these services came a large, unexpected bill. “Sounds familiar to a lot of people,” Burress notes, as he continues on to cite a Consumers Union representative study that found that 41% of privately insured Georgians had experienced  a surprise medical bill in the past two years.

When Burress asks if this was surprising, Beth Stephens, Health Access Program Director at Georgia Watch, admits it was a higher number than she expected to see. These numbers are no cause for alarm, however, as Beth points toward other states that Georgia can look to as models. “Some states,” she begins, “like Texas, New York and Maryland have passed legislation that protects consumers from inadvertent surprise out of network bills, and doesn’t put burden on the consumer to find the solution.”

Georgia lawmakers are paying attention to legislation on insurance company provider directories and surprise medical bills. It’s critical that patients planning for medical procedures have access to accurate information so they can stay in-network and avoid surprise medical bills. We’ve partnered with state advocacy organizations, Georgia Watch and Georgians for a Healthy Future, to build support for these critical reforms. Go to our Georgia page to learn more and take action!

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