Accident victims got some unexpected good news yesterday. A sweeping new law that will prevent most surprise medical bills was approved by Congress as part of pandemic-related legislation. The bill now moves to the President for approval. Bravo!
This has been a serious problem for many years. One of the biggest problems injured victims face comes weeks or even months later when they open their mail and find enormous surprise medical bills. This often happens because they have been treated by a hospital or doctor outside of their health insurance network so their company paid little, if any, money.
Of course, rarely. if ever. do people in emergency situations like car wrecks know in advance which providers will be paid.
This has resulted in an abusive practice called balance billing.
Further, victims have no idea that the hospital can charge any amount of money it wants to. We often see hospital bills exceeding ten thousand dollars due to treatment by multiple physicians and extensive diagnostic testing, not to mention huge costs for surgeries.
On the other hand, if the bills are in-network, there is no balance due, other that the co-pay and deductible.
Further adding to the financial stress, someone often has a health insurance plan but it claims that it is secondary and refuses to pay. In other casers, it eventually pays after a long delay, but then demands to be repaid in a process called subrogation.
To make matters worse, the at-fault driver’s liability company has no legal duty to pay the plaintiff’s medical bills up front, so it doesn’t pay until it knows all of the damages the injured victim has suffered and how much money they are demanding for compensation.
Surprise medical bills are a huge problem, especially in Texas where they are generated at two times the national average.
The new law will help hundreds of thousands of Americans every year.
Unfortunately, it does not take effect until January 1, 2022.
So after the surprise car crash and surprise medical treatment, the surprise medical bills will surprisingly be allowed to continue for a long time.