According to Jeff Atwater, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, the latest step that Florida lawmakers are taking to reduce outrageous and unanticipated financial burdens for consumers under emergency circumstances is a ‘priority’.
If passed, the bill will require insurance companies to treat billing for ambulance rides and other emergency services more like ‘in network’ services, which would create fairer out-of-pocket costs for consumers like Farrow. It will also necessitate that healthcare plans pay much more revenue to air ambulance companies than they currently do, and the Florida Insurance Council has warned that this could cause an incredibly sharp increase in the cost of health plans for policyholders.
Despite the fact that insurers are arguing hotly against several portions of the bill, one emergency healthcare consumer thinks it’s ‘awesome’.
Penny Farrow, a resident of Boynton Beach, was charged $600 for her ambulance ride alone after calling 911 for a heart problem, because Florida Blue- her insurer at the time- declared the fire and rescue team that assisted her in her time of need an ‘out of network’ provider, given her particular plan.
Farrow was understandably outraged at the bill, and has expressed her concern that high costs like the one she encountered might push low-income individuals to think twice before calling 911, even in the direst of circumstances. Additionally, Farrow has pointed out that such charges are underhanded and unfair, because no one in a true emergency situation has time to ask the 911 dispatcher about co-pays, deductibles, or lower-cost transport options; they are far too busy fighting for their lives, or helping a loved one fight for theirs! Yet, with the current state of relations between insurers and emergency services, not doing so can lead to financial catastrophe for many families.
This is not the only battle between insurers, healthcare providers, and lawmakers that Florida will be host to this year, though. With a bill to eliminate medical ‘balance billing’, a bill to allow drivers to opt out of Personal Injury Protection coverage, a bill fighting back against private insurance companies’ ‘unreasonable’ tactics to gain customers, and a bill that will reevaluate ‘assignment of benefits’ contracts between third parties and property insurers all in the works, it seems that legislators will be tackling a ‘battle royale’ of sorts this year when it comes to all types of insurance.