Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania
As Lutherans, we have a commitment to work for and support the health care of all people as a shared endeavor. "Our commitment comes in grateful response to God's saving love in Jesus Christ that frees us to love and seek the well-being of our neighbor." ELCA Social Statement, Caring for Health: Our Shared Endeavor.
Surprise medical bills -- alarmingly common in Pennsylvania -- can have devastaing consequences for financial stability and a deterrent to seeking needed health care. Most often, they occur when a patient unknowingly receives care from a provider not covered by their health insurance.
A study conducted in 2018 showed that 1 in 3 Pennsylvanians has received a surprise medical bill over the past year, and most of them don't know where to turn to get help. This can make people hesitant to get the care they need, or financially devastate them if they receive an expensive and unexpected bill. A 2016 Federal Reserve study found that 44% of U.S. households cannot pay an emergency expense of $400 or more without borrowing or selling some of their possessions. Often the choice is between food and health care, which leads to poorer outcomes for both short- and long-term health.
Learn more here.
Pennsylvania law does not currently protect patients from surprise medical bills when they receive care from an out-of-network provider, and Pennsylvanians can not afford to wait until the federal government passes legislation. House Bill 1862, which passed from the House Insurance Committee in a unanimous bi-partisan vote, is designed to protect patients while reining in out-of-pocket costs and maintaining patients' access to doctors. Its aim is to establish a fair and equitable process for resolving the issues behind surprise bills, ensuring that providers are paid fairly.
Contact your representative and urge them to pass House Bill 1862 without amendment.
Dear [Decision Maker],
I'm writing to ask you to support HB 1862, the Surprise Balance Billing Protection Act.Surprise medical billing is a practice that occurs when patients are billed for the balance of the cost of care that wasn't covered by their insurance. Most of the time, patients are not aware that they received care that wasn't covered by their insurance policy. Surprise medical bills often happen following an emergency, such as a heart attack or serious car accident, when patients don't have the chance to choose who provides their care. Surprise medical bills can also happen at an in-network hospital when some of the providers who care for a patient are not in the network or when an in-network provider refers a patient to get lab work, a diagnostic test, or other care that isn't in-network. Typical bills can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars.
Sincerely,[Your Name] [Your Address] [City, State ZIP]
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