Senate approves consumer protection bill to deter surprise medical bills

Mike Seals - March 10, 2021 3:49 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY – The full Senate has given unanimous approval to a measure taking aim at surprise medical bills and the financial devastation that can follow.  Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville, is the principal author of Senate Bill 548.

Daniels said under the provisions of SB 548, a health care provider would be prohibited from reporting a healthcare debt to a credit bureau or pursue collection activities unless a good faith estimate of the cost of the procedure or care was presented before the service was provided.

“The aftermath of health care can be financially devastating to people, because they had no idea they were going to be hit with these bills before the care was provided,” Daniels said.  “Over 50% of bankruptcies are due to medical debt.  Patients need to know up-front what the cost is going to be so they aren’t hit with surprise bills that can wipe out their finances and ruin their credit.  SB 548 is a consumer protection bill that encourages price transparency.”

The bill also addresses emergency services in cases where the patient is not able to make an informed choice regarding their care.  In those cases, an insured patient could only be charged the rates for an in-network facility or provider, which can be significantly less the amount charged for those out-of-network.  For those who are uninsured, the amount charged can be no more than 165 percent of Medicare.

SB 548 now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.  Rep. Tammy Townley, R-Ardmore, is the House principal author of the measure.

For more information, contact Sen. Julie Daniels at 405-521-5634 or email [email protected].

 

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