Bill Would End "Surprise" Medical Charges

Mar 5, 2019

A bill that would a stop the practice known as “surprise billing” on medical bills has easily passed the Washington state House of Representatives.

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler crafted the bill that protects consumers from receiving a surprise medical bill for out-of network services.

Kreidler says that billing comes when a consumer gets services from an In-network provider, that uses out-of-network services.

 “Maybe let’s say a hospital. They may have someone coming in to deliver services, like anesthesiology for a surgical procedure who is out-of-network. Then that out-of-network provider will not accept the reimbursement from the health insurer, and will balance bill the consumer the difference," Kreidler said.

The insurance commissioner says those kind of charges can often far exceed the normal out-of-pocket limits set by health insurance policies.

“We’ve got a couple of examples out of southwest Washington right now where one surprise bill was up around $100,000, and another was $200,000. It goes well beyond what they anticipated as their co-pay and deductible,” he said.

The new bill would compensate the out-of-network provider at standard rates.

While the bill passed easily in the House by a vote of 84 to 13, Kreidler says similar previous bills have stalled before in the Senate. It now goes to the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee, where a similar bill passed out of committee unanimously earlier this session.


Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler
Credit Office of the Insurance Commissioner