(CBS SF) – One in three Americans with private health insurance has been hit with a surprise medical bill, according to a new survey by Consumers Union. The study of 2,200 individuals also found consumers overall are confused when it comes to how to fight a surprise bill.
Among the surprises: bills that were for higher amounts than customer’s expected, bills for out-of-network services that customers believed were in-network, and bills from doctors they did not expect would send them a bill.READ MORE: Napa Valley Grape Growers Say Dry Year Survivable But Fear Prolonged Drought
Betsy Imholz of Consumers Union says few people who receive surprise bills ever file a complaint with a state agency. “Nobody got that far at all, in fact, almost zero,” Imholz told KPIX 5 ConsumerWatch.READ MORE: Red Flag Warning Now in Effect for North and East Bay Hills Through Weekend
Earlier this year, California’s Insurance Commissioner imposed two emergency regulations that now require hospitals to disclose if any part of a patient’s treatment will be out-of-network. It also requires insurers to pay some out-of-network costs when an in-network provider cannot be found in a “timely manner.”
But, Imholz and the State’s Department of Insurance say without complaints, state regulators can’t hold insurers or providers accountable.MORE NEWS: Fatal Rollover Crash Closes Portion of Highway 101 in San Jose Friday Night
Consumers Union has set up a tool that directs consumers to the appropriate agency where they can file a billing complaint.