Consumers Union Celebrates Passage of AB 72 to Protect Millions of Californians from Surprise Medical Bills

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We're working to make sure that when you go to an ‘in-network’ hospital on your insurance, you pay only in-network prices. Unfair loopholes allow you to get hit with out-of-network charges for medical care you thought was covered.

August 31, 2016

SACRAMENTO, CA — The California Assembly today passed legislation that will protect millions of Californians from surprise out-of-network medical bills. AB 72  (Bonta, Bonilla, Dahle, Gonzalez, Maienschein, Santiago and Wood) will ensure consumers are responsible for only their in-network cost sharing and would stop outrageous and unexpected out-of-network bills from doctors they did not choose.

Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization arm of Consumer Reports, celebrated the final passage of the legislation and urged California Governor Jerry Brown to sign the bill.

“In less than 24 hours, hundreds of Californians called their Assembly Members in support of AB 72 — and our lawmakers listened. Today’s vote is a victory for the millions of Californians that will be protected from surprise medical bills from out-of-network providers they had no choice in,” said Betsy Imholz, Special Projects Director for Consumers Union. “The Assembly’s action today boosts the movement in states around the country to end the financial pain of surprise medical bills. We urge Governor Brown to waste no time in signing this strong legislation into law.”

Nearly one in four privately insured Californians received a surprise medical bill where their health plan paid less than expected in the past two years, according to a 2015 survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center. Among those respondents, again nearly one in four were charged at an out-of-network rate when they thought a provider was in-network.

After hearing from thousands of consumers nationwide who were hit with surprise medical bills, Consumers Union launched the End Surprise Medical Bills campaign to help put an end to these unfair bills for good. Consumers can visit EndSurpriseMedicalBills.org to support AB 72, share their surprise medical bill story, or use our Insurance Complaint Tool for state-specific assistance, resources and information.

Consumers Union is working in several states, including California, to enact legislation to protect consumers from surprise medical bills. The group was a strong proponent of a law recently passed in Florida to ban balance billing and strengthen consumer protections.

PLEASE NOTE: Consumers Union can connect reporters with consumers who have received surprise medical bills. For more information, contact Kara Kelber at kara.kelber@consumer.org

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Contact: Kara Kelber, kara.kelber@consumer.org, 202-462-6262 or Michael McCauley, mmccauley@consumer.org, 415-431-6747, ext 7606

Consumers Union is the policy and mobilization arm of Consumer Reports.  Consumers Union works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace. Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization.  Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually.  Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website, and other publications.