RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — You can plan a surgery through your doctor that’s in your insurance network and still end up with a ludicrous bill.
That’s because someone, such as the anesthesiologist during the surgery, may be out of network.
“It’s outrageous. It’s totally outrageous,” said North Carolina Senator (R) Joyce Krawiec. “Folks are hit with surprise bills months later they had no idea they were going to be receiving.”
On Wednesday, the North Carolina state senate passed a bill meant to help curb that, Senate Bill 505.
This bill aims to make the medical billing process more transparent.
Currently, people can go to hospitals that are in their insurance network but not know some of the services they’re receiving care from out-of-network providers.
“Even sophisticated consumers assume, we do assume when we go to an in-network provider the care we receive will be in-network,” said Sen. Krawiec.
She’s part of a trio of Republican senators pushing for more medical transparency and affordability.
“It definitely will reduce the cost in many cases, and it certainly will stop the surprises families are facing when many times they can’t possibly pay those bills,” she said.
SB 505 requires providers to tell patients if part of their medical experience will be out of network.
They’d need to know at least three days before the appointment. Or if it’s an emergency, like a car wreck, they’d tell them as soon as possible. However, the out-of-network provider may still be their only option in emergency situations.
“I’m hoping hospitals will be able to get more people in-network for that reason,” said Sen. Krawiec.
Opponents to the bill want to see action on a federal level.
They said the No Surprises Act, which starts going into effect next year, protects customers even further by banning surprise bills altogether and keeping patients out of negotiations.
If SB 505 passes, it’ll then head to the house. It could then go into effect in January.