Law Promises Relief from Surprise Medical Bills

Arizona consumers could get some limited relief from surprise medical bills that exceed $1,000 under legislation approved by the state Legislature, according to the Arizona Republic.

The measure seeks to limit the financial exposure of consumers who get care from a hospital or doctor that are part of their insurance provider’s network — only to be billed by an out-of-network anesthesiologist, emergency-medicine doctor, surgical assistant or others who were part of the chain of care.

The bill passed a contentious House committee hearing last week before sailing through the Senate.

Gov. Doug Ducey signed the bill into law this week.

The legislation, which takes effect in 2019, will allow a consumer with an out-of-network bill exceeding $1,000 to contact the Arizona Department of Insurance to request the appointment of an arbitrator.

The insurer and health-care provider must try to settle the dispute through an informal telephone conference within 30 days of the consumer’s arbitration request. The case advances to arbitration if the two sides cannot agree to an amount, with the insurer and health-care provider splitting the cost. Either party would have the right to appeal an arbitrator’s decision to the county Superior Court.