This Week's Poll


Unexpected medical bills can mean financial ruin
–A bill to change that

Staff Reports

H.R. 3502 called “Protecting People From Surprise Medical Bills Act” would protect health care consumers from surprise billing practices, and for other purposes.

According to an article by Jesse Rifkin of GovTrack this week, surprise medical bills, stemming from disputes between insurance companies and healthcare providers, are often passed along to the patient at life-ruining costs. For example, a Texas high school teacher was charged $108 thousand for his heart attack. A former cocktail waitress in Washington was charged $227 thousand for her heart attack. Other states have passed laws cracking down on this practice.

The article stated the bill would ban the practice of unexpected healthcare expenses by instituting a process called IDR, or independent dispute resolution.

Under this process, both the insurer and the healthcare provider name their cost for the patient’s care or procedure, then a neutral arbiter chooses what they believe is the fairer price.

The bill was introduced on June 26, 2019, and is currently in committees.

A supporter of the bill stated that for too many middle-class families, receiving an unexpected and very expensive bill from an out-of-network provider is devastating and can lead to financial ruin. This legislation will ban these bills and keep families out of the middle by using a fair, evidence-based, independent, and neutral arbitration system to resolve payment disputes between insurers and providers.

The bill has attracted 78 bipartisan House cosponsors: 43 Republicans and 35 Democrats. It awaits a potential vote in either the House Energy and Commerce, Oversight and Reform, or Ways and Means Committee.