Governor Health Insurance Bill in Florida

A fight between doctors and consumer groups has been settled by Gov. Charlie Crist. He signed a bill into law Wednesday that requires insurance companies to send a payment directly to an out-of-network doctor, instead of first to the patient.

Doctors’ groups and insurers supported the measure. BlueCross and consumer groups opposed sending the payment directly to an out-of-network doctor, bypassing the consumer.

According to an article, the governor believes this move is good for consumers as it will encourage the out of-network doctors, who are sometimes a bit hard to access depending on your medical coverage, to accept insurance without demanding payment from the patient on the spot.

But consumer groups are concerned that Senate Bill 1122 will undermine the cost-savings that insurers negotiate. Generally your preferred provider networks or PPOs demand that doctors provide a discount in exchange for the business. With a direct payment, you are removing any incentive to discount, according to the Florida Public Interest Research Group, and that means consumers may be unpleasantly surprised when they get a bill from a doctor who is out-of-network.

How many Florida families, already devastated financially will be hurt? According to a statewide survey, almost half of Floridians would be unable to pay a medical bill of $1,000, and 62 percent would be unable to pay a $5,000 bill.

Doctors believe it is more likely they will be paid, rather than wait for the insured to receive their check, then pay the doctor. That may be true, but with the passage of SB 1122, doctors outside of the PPO, who have not negotiated a lower rate, will be entitled to receive payment as promptly and directly as a doctor who has agreed to cap costs.

An unexpectedly high medical bill is not a surprise that most Floridians need to face these days. This bill affects all of us in Florida, and as Jacksonville injury attorneys, we want to make sure that our readers are informed and kept in the loop.

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