Politics

State Lawmakers Take Small Steps Toward Ending Surprise Medical Bills

Surprise bills can happen in emergencies when a patient doesn’t have the ability to choose which doctor they see or which hospital they go to. 
Surprise bills can happen in emergencies when a patient doesn’t have the ability to choose which doctor they see or which hospital they go to. 
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

Georgia lawmakers have taken a few small steps toward solving a problem that’s eluded resolution for years: surprise medical bills.

They took action on two pieces of legislation aimed at protecting consumers from unexpected, sometimes-expensive healthcare costs that come when they receive care from doctors or at hospitals that don’t take their insurance.

One bill made it out of a state Senate committee Wednesday, moving it one step closer to consideration by the full upper chamber. A companion piece of legislation it through a House committee Tuesday, before being sent back to that body for further tweaking.

Surprise bills can happen in emergencies when a patient doesn’t have the ability to choose which doctor they see or which hospital they go to. 

They also happen in elective procedures, when someone in a patient’s medical team, such as an anesthesiologist, does not accept their insurance.

WABE health reporter Sam Whitehead joined Jim Burress on “All Things Considered” for a look at the two pieces of legislation and how they’d protect consumers.

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