|Date:||October 12, 2016|
|Source:||Palm Beach Post|
A state working group that meets next week will examine a piece of the puzzle left out of last spring’s legislation designed to cut down on surprise medical bills for consumers: Ambulances.
Consumers like Penny Farrow of Boynton Beach found it “outrageous” people have to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars because ambulance services typically refuse to join insurance networks, The Palm Beach Post has reported. Consumers often pay local taxes for ambulances only to get whacked in the wallet again when they use them, though it’s not like they can shop around for in-network ambulance service when they call 911, they say.
“I am pleased to announce the formation of the Office of the Insurance Consumer Advocate’s Emergency Medical Transportation Working Group,” Sha’Ron James, the state’s insurance consumer advocate, said this week. “Florida consumers may be shocked to learn that many air and ground emergency medical transportation services are often considered out-of-network by their healthcare plans, and that they owe several hundred or, in some cases, thousands of dollars for the use of the service. The EMT Working Group’s focus will center on addressing the needs of Florida’s insurance consumers by identifying solutions that may address issues and concerns faced by the ambulance service, insurance industry, and ultimately the insurance buying public.”
Some county ambulance services have argued local taxes might have to be raised if they were forced to accept lower, negotiated payments from insurance companies. That argument was successful in getting ambulances removed from a bill that passed last session and limited what medical providers such as radiologists and anesthesiologists can charge consumers in situations where patients have no meaningful choice.
The first meeting, involving a wide range of industry and advocacy groups, is set for Monday, Oct. 17 at 9 a.m. in Tallahassee.