Dear Fellow Floridians:
Here’s a story that may sound familiar: a family makes a rushed and likely stressful trip to a local emergency room—they’re treated, pay their co-pay and are on their way. A few weeks later, they begin to receive surprising and sometimes costly bills from a provider who provided care during their visit. Apparently, the provider was not a part of the family’s insurance network, so the insurance company has only agreed to pay a small portion of the provider's cost, and the provider has billed the rest directly to the patient. This is a process known as balance billing, and whether or not you’re familiar with the term, you’ve likely been affected personally or know someone who has struggled with this issue.
We know that you carry insurance to defray the cost of unexpected medical care, and we believe there’s a better solution to this important issue that often leaves you as the consumer in the middle of a daunting billing equation involving the provider and your insurance company.
That’s why Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate, Sha’Ron James, is bringing people on all sides of this issue together for a forum designed to create a balanced approach to unexpected medical expenses. I’ve appointed Ms. James to represent all policyholders when insurance decisions are made. Her role is to offer guidance and a voice to the people of Florida, and she’s inviting you to make your voices heard on this matter.
The forum will be hosted next Thursday, October 15th, at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee. During an all day event, full of presentations from the medical community, insurance industry, as well as consumer advocacy groups, we will learn how balance billing impacts overall health care affordability, how other states have addressed this consumer issue and what state leaders can do to find the right approach to manage this issue in Florida.
If you’ve been through a balance billing situation and you’re able to make the trip to Tallahassee, we invite you to join the conversation and address the panel of insurance, consumer, and medical experts who will be at the table for this critical discussion. If you’re unable to make the trip, or you’d rather not participate in person, I encourage you to write down your thoughts and email them to the Advocate’s Office, or give them a call to share your experience. It’s only by hearing your stories that we can effect positive change.
To view the agenda and other materials, visit the Insurance Consumer Advocate’s website at:
http://www.myfloridacfo.com/Division/ICA/ICAsForum-MedicalExpenses.html. Written testimony may be submitted by emailing the Insurance Consumer Advocate, Sha’Ron James, at
InsuranceConsumerAdvocate@MyFloridaCFO.com. You can also reach the Office of the ICA by calling 850-413-5923.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida