A Bill that Takes Some of the Surprise out of Medical Bills

Every year, thousands of New Yorkers find themselves responsible for a surprise medical bill from a doctor, like an anesthesiologist, who becomes involved in their care but, unbeknown to the patient, is not covered by their insurance. Now a provision in the state budget agreement announced Saturday is intended to protect consumers by requiring that they be given a reasonable amount of notice when an out-of-network doctor will be treating them. If they are stuck with a surprise bill, patients will be responsible only for whatever their co-pay would be if the doctor were in-network. The out-of-network doctor and the insurance company will have to hash out the bill using what is known as baseball arbitration, with each proposing a price and an arbitrator choosing one of them. The law will go into effect in one year.

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