Column: No More Surprises

Categories: Wozniak News

Surprise medical bills have devastated families across Michigan for decades. The practice of charging patients more than they bargained for after the treatment is unfair and must be stopped.

You might not have heard of surprise medical billing, but you’ve probably experienced it. In fact, about one of every seven patients has received a surprise bill from a health care provider. It happens when patients consent to a surgery, treatment or procedure they believe is covered by their insurance. Later the patient finds out that factors beyond their control, such as an assisting surgeon outside of their network, have caused their medical bill to unexpectedly skyrocket beyond what they originally agreed to pay.

This practice is one of the many factors contributing to our nation’s massive health care costs, which is the number-one cause of bankruptcy in America. Surprise medical bills can drive families into crippling debt and even bankruptcy. We must increase transparency to protect patients in the billing process.

I wholeheartedly support legislation introduced in the Michigan House to combat this despicable practice and ensure patients know exactly how much money they are on the hook for before participating in a procedure. House Bills 4459-60 require medical providers to give 24 hours’ notice if their service will result in out-of-pocket costs to their patient, along with a written estimate of those costs. In emergency situations, where consent cannot be given, the patient will still be protected from surprise fees.

I was proud to vote in support of this bipartisan plan in committee, and I will continue to support it when it is brought up for a vote in the House because I believe we must do all we can to make health care accessible and affordable for all in Michigan.