This year lawmakers will take on an oversight from a 2013 bill that prohibited balance bills in which the insured assigns his or her benefits to the medical provider. This year, members will be tasked with putting someone in charge of regulating that and the responsibility looks to fall on Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney.
HB 95, authored by Rep. Chism will amend the 2013 law to allow the Insurance Commissioner’s office (MID) to adopt regulations and resolve disputes between providers and consumers.
“In other words, an insurer should only have to pay for his deductible and his co-insurance and everything else should be waived,” said Chism. “But what we didn’t do, we didn’t put anybody in charge of it,”
In laments terms, the balance billing happens when an individual is charged the difference between what the provider’s services cost and what your insurance company will pay. What Mississippians should know, is that this practice is not legal in the state when an assignment of benefits occurs.
What Chaney said his office and many Mississippians have faced is providers who fail to comply.
“Consumers are being balance billed tens of thousands of dollars because air ambulance providers are often not in the insurance carrier’s provider network. The median cost of an air ambulance bill is $36,000.00,” said Chaney in a release. He said since 2015 balance billing calls have increased, and significantly again in 2018.
Chism added that it is no secret that consumers must wait to see what an insurance provider will pay, however they’re still receiving bills and providers will often threaten to impact someone’s credit.
In 2018, the MID recovered approximately $30,000 for consumers. In 2019, there were 10 complaints with approximately $25,000 recovered for consumers. So far in 2020, the MID has received two balance billing complaints
The new legislation passed in the House committee and chamber 106-11. Chism said it was received well with minimal to no opposition, after some small verbiage changes were made to the bill.
UPDATE: The Mississippi Senate passed HB 95 on June 15, by a vote of 47-2.