What is the problem?
If you go to an “in-network” hospital or clinic or have a medical emergency, you have every reason to assume your care will be covered. But, often this is not the case. Every year, thousands of New Yorkers receive out-of-network services without their knowledge – and are stuck with the bill. They are left to fend for themselves in negotiations with their insurance plans when their doctor and their plan can’t agree on a fair price for the services.
“Surprise” medical bills can place significant financial strain on families. Almost two-thirds of personal bankruptcies are related to medical debt. These bills hurt families, which is just not fair.
What is the solution?
Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget includes a comprehensive solution. If passed, New York State law would protect consumers from surprise bills and expand consumer rights and protections for out-of-network services, by:
- Holding consumers harmless for surprise bills from emergency room or out-of-network charges that were outside of their control, and taking consumers out of the middle of billing disputes between their doctors and their insurance plans;
- Requiring all products to meet a set of provider network adequacy standards, so fewer end up seeing out-of-network providers; and
- Allowing consumers to go out-of-network when their plan’s provider network doesn’t have a specialist who meets their medical needs.
How can you take action to stop surprise medical bills?
1. Tell your legislator to stop surprise medical bills
Email, call and write your New York State Assembly Member and Senator, and urge them to support Gov. Cuomo’s proposed bill to protect consumers against surprise medical bills. If you have experienced a surprise bill or know of someone who has, make sure to share your story.
To find your New York Assembly Member, click here
To find your New York Senator, click here
2. Share your story about surprise medical bills
Personal stories are critical to show the legislature that surprise medical bills are affecting real people all over the state.
- To share your own story: Use our story form to share your own personal experience with surprise medical bills.
- To share, with permission, the story of a New York consumer: Use our organizational story form to submit the story and a permission form signed by the consumer.
3. Sign on to our letter supporting Gov. Cuomo’s proposed legislation to stop surprise medical bills, in addition to supporting a Basic Health Program and consumer assistance programs
Over 50 organizations have already signed on. You can read the letter and sign on here.
4. Submit an organizational memo of support to the legislature
For an example, read HCFANY’s memo of support here.
5. Learn more about surprise medical bills
- Full text of the Governor’s proposal in his budget bill, Part U, p. 126
- “An Unwelcome Surprise: How New Yorkers are Getting Stuck with Unexpected Medical Bills from Out-of-Network Providers”: Department of Financial Services 2012 report on the issue of surprise bills.