New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo has just unveiled legislation to protect hospital patients from being hit with exorbitant bills from anesthesiologists who do not belong to their insurance networks whether or not they have undergone emergency or elective surgeries.
As a result of the bill, patients will no longer be responsible for the bills not covered by their health insurance companies when they were not informed that the anesthesiologists, radiologist or other specialist was not listed under their plans. Instead, the insurance companies would have to resolve the billing disputes directly with the doctors and/or hospitals using an arbitration system, “modeled after the process used to mediate issues in Major League Baseball.”
“Unreimbursed out-of-network bills leaves patients thousands of dollars in debt, and it is the number 1 complaint we get, stated Department of Financial Services Superintendent Ben Lawsky, whose agency regulates insurers within the state. “Insurers will now have to allow access to out-of-network providers if there aren’t any with the appropriate training and experience to meet the patients’ needs within the network,” he added.
It should be noted that the bill must now be voted on by the legislature. Once passed, however, it would go into affect immediately.