State Senator Dan Hegeman – Protecting Patients From Surprise Medical Bills

During the 2018 legislative session, the Missouri General Assembly approved Senate Bill 982, which, among other things, aims to protect emergency room patients from surprise medical costs. State lawmakers decided to take up this bill after one of the United States’ largest insurance providers altered the way it manages emergency room claims. That change negatively impacted many people, as it made patients, who ordinarily don’t have the same level of medical expertise as doctors, responsible for self-diagnosing during possible life-threatening medical emergencies.

Senate Bill 982, which was signed into law over the summer, shifts the responsibility of diagnosis away from patients suffering from “emergency medical conditions.” Under the new law, whether a person is considered to be suffering from such an emergency condition depends on the person having sufficiently severe symptoms, regardless of the final diagnosis given for the underlying cause of those symptoms. This prevents a health insurance carrier from denying payment of a patient’s emergency medical bills when that patient reasonably believed he or she was suffering from an emergency medical condition.

I believe Senate Bill 982 protects Missourians from unfair insurance practices, keeping medical insurance carriers accountable to their customers. As legislators, it is our duty to codify these consumer protections into law so that we can prevent insurance companies from taking advantage of regular citizens. You shouldn’t need advanced medical knowledge to be treated fairly by your insurance provider.

As always, please feel free to call, email or write with your ideas or concerns. My Capitol office number is (573) 751-1415, my email is dan.hegeman@senate.mo.gov and my mailing address is Room 332, State Capitol Building, Jefferson City, MO 65101.