Washington insurance commissioner proposes legislation to prevent surprise medical bills

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler revealed Jan. 22 that he is proposing legislation to prevent patients from receiving surprise medical bills for out-of-network healthcare services.

Surprise medical bills occur when patients receive care at a facility that is in their insurance company's network, but they are seen by an out-of-network provider. Since the out-of-network provider does not have to adhere to contractual, in-network rate agreements, they are able to charge the patient for a remaining balance after the insurance company submits its portion of the bill.

Mr. Kreidler said in a news release that his proposal would bar out-of-network providers from sending surprise bills for a covered service at an in-network facility. He said the provider and insurers would have a chance to resolve their payment issue, but if a resolution isn't reached, the parties would move to arbitration and be prohibited from billing the patient.

A hearing on Mr. Kreidler's proposed legislation is slated for Jan. 23 before the House Health Care and Wellness Committee in Olympia, Wash. 


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