Texans have reason to cheer a significant act of progress out of the legislative session. Late Tuesday, Governor Greg Abbott signed into law Senate Bill 507, which bolsters patient protections against surprise medical billing.

Surprise medical billing occurs when an insured person receives out-of-network care (often in emergency care situations, like visits to neighborhood emergency clinics), and later get hit with medical charges that can far exceed what’s covered by the patient’s insurance.

The AARP Texas-supported legislation was sponsored by State Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) and Rep. John Frullo (R-Lubbock). The new law, which takes effect Sept. 1, expands a successful but not widely used state mediation process for victims of surprise bills. The new law requires both medical providers and insurers to clearly explain – in readable, boldface type and conspicuous, plain language — patients’ rights to mediation and how to request mediation for bills that exceed $500.

“Surprise medical bills are inherently unfair to consumers and can drive families into financial hardship,” said AARP Texas Director Bob Jackson. “On behalf of the 2.3 million AARP members in Texas, I applaud the signing of Senate Bill 507 and congratulate the Texas Legislature for its work toward combatting surprise medical billing.”

To learn more about how to protect yourself from a surprise medical bill, visit the Texas Department of Insurance site:  http://www.tdi.texas.gov/consumer/cpmbalancebilling.html

 

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