AUSTIN (KXAN) — The sticker shock that comes after a visit to the hospital or a doctor can be overwhelming. According to the Texas Medical Association, almost 1,500 complaints came in from Texans in 2014 about medical bills. Many of the complaints are about paying bills they thought their insurance paid.
The law currently states that if the bill is more than $1,000, the Texas Division of Insurance has to strongly encourage both the insurance company and medical provider to come to a decision. If the bill is less than $1,000, and an agreement isn’t made, the patient has to pay the bill.
For Michael Fryar it is all in the paperwork. During an emergency room visit for appendicitis, doctors put him under, fixed him up, and sent him home. A month later, he received a $947 bill for scan consultations he didn’t know he was responsible for. Insurance didn’t cover it and Fryar had three months to pay off the amount.
“That’s more than a car payment and if you’re not planning on it, cause it was an emergency,” he said. “What do you do?…If that’s not what health insurance is for, then what is it for?”
Fryar supports Senate Bill 481, which would require all medical bills, including under $1,000, to go to mediation. The Senate Committee on Business and Commerce discussed the bill, which is authored by Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, on Tuesday.
“You understand the costs up front and if you don’t like it, you go somewhere else,” Fryar said of shopping for household items. “But you don’t do that from the emergency room. Who goes and debates pricing in the emergency room.”
He wants his insurance and the hospital to figure out all the bills so he doesn’t have to pick up what’s left.
According to the Texas Medical Association, nearly 1,500 complaints were filed over medical bills in the first nine months of 2014. The Texas Department of Insurance reports 885 requests for meditations were made. All of those cases involved bills of more than $1,000. Most cases were settled, but 110 of those complaints were sent to the State Office of Administrative Hearings for further review.