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Daryl Bunn checked with his insurance before taking his wife to the emergency room.
He wanted to make sure they went to a hospital that was in their insurance network. After being directed to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, Wash., Bunn was later blindsided by a $693 bill.
The hospital was in-network, but Bunn’s wife was treated by an out-of-network doctor. They were not warned about this before going to the hospital, and Bunn did not even find out until the bill arrived over a month later.
Even with insurance, patients are constantly hit with surprise medical bills due to unexpected out-of-network doctors or hospitals.
“It happens way too often,” Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler told KGW investigative reporter Kyle Iboshi.
Kreidler will re-introduce legislation similar to a bill that died in the Senate earlier this year that would have prevented people with insurance from receiving a surprise medical bill after being treated by an out-of-network provider at an in-network medical facility.
“In my opinion, people are losing money — they’re getting ripped off”
In March of this year, a new Oregon law went into effect that protects patients from surprise out-of-network bills when they are treated at the hospital or emergency room.
“In my opinion, people are losing money — they’re getting ripped off,” Bunn told KGW. He is still dealing with the big surprise bill charged for his wife’s out-of-network treatment. When Bunn protested the bill, the provider who treated Bunn’s wife offered a 30-percent discount, bringing the total to a still- costly $485.
“We don’t have a lot of money,” explained Bunn. “It’s very, very tight budgets.”