• Washington mom wants lawmakers to ban medical balance billing

    By: Essex Porter

    Updated:

    Ryan Hansen, 15, was at Scottish Highlander Band camp, when his mom had to bring him home sick.

    In an interview, his mother Jamie Hansen told us what happened

    “His breathing was rapid and kind of shallow, his hip hurt really bad,” Hansen said.

    Jamie told us Ryan spent days in a pediatric intensive care unit in Portland. Medical staff assured her insurance would cover a bill that reached $112,000 -- but her insurance company determined the hospital was out of network and she owed $96,000.

    Asked if that’s right, she responded, “No, no I don't think so. I pay my health insurance premiums and I pay a lot, I pay a higher amount so that my out of pocket is less. So that I don't have surprises is what I'm hoping for."

    That's why Hansen testified before the House Health Care and Wellness committee in support of Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler's legislation to restrict what's called "balance billing."

    “One of the first things that struck me is how your hospital emergency room can be in network and the doctors providing care in that exact emergency room are not in network and therefore not covered at the same level if at all,” Hansen said.

    Kreidler's legislation would require all hospitals and insurance companies to work out billing issues without getting the patients involved.

    “I did nothing wrong, I did what I was supposed to do at every step of the way,’ Hansen said.

    Representatives of insurance companies had opposed such legislation in the past, now they want to make it work.

    “We don't want any more stories like Mrs. Hansen told you today and nor does anyone else in the room,” said Len Sorrin of Premera Blue Cross.

    Hansen says her final bill was $38,000, which she is using a second mortgage to pay. Most importantly, she says her son Ryan is now doing fine.


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