October 5, 2015
Palm Beach Post
Florida’s state-paid insurance consumer advocate announced Monday she is convening a forum Oct. 15 on surprise medical bills — and she wants input from consumers including readers of The Palm Beach Post.
The forum in Tallahassee is designed to help shape state legislation in the upcoming session after attempts to fix the problem stalled last spring.
“The timing is critical,” Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate Sha’Ron James told the newspaper. “The consumer is being caught in the middle of a battle between the insurer and the provider.”
A big part of the issue is sometimes called “balance billing.” It happens when insurers and medical providers can’t agree, so they stick the consumer with the difference. This comes up in a host of situations including emergencies, when the consumer has little control over whether someone is in her health plan or not.
But even if a consumer goes to a hospital that is in network, not everyone treating the consumer there might be in network. The national group Consumers Union has called for states to take legislation action to help resolve this. It cites examples such as an out-of-network anaethesiologist who left a consumer with an unexpected $3,000 bill.
James said she wants to hear from consumers — either by submitting information that will become part of the public record, or by letting her office know about concerns even if the consumer does not want to be named.
1. Speak up: Written testimony, documentation or other submissions may be provided for the forum through the Insurance Consumer Advocate at ICA@myfloridacfo.com. For additional information or questions, please contact Vicki A. Twogood at 850-413-2970.
2. Tell the Post: The newspaper wants to hear about your problems with surprise medical bills as we pursue stories on this important public-policy issue. Tell Charles Elmore, reporter at The Palm Beach Post, firstname.lastname@example.org or (561) 820-4811.
3. Watch and learn: If you can’t be there at the forum in person, watch it on the Florida Channel, www.thefloridachannel.org.
The forum will be held at The Capitol’s Cabinet Room, located on the Lower Level at 400 South Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015.
The agenda and other meeting documents will be posted on the Insurance Consumer Advocate’s website at: