New Bill Aims to Eliminate Surprise ER Bills for Car Accident Victims

Max Meyers
Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.

In the aftermath of a motor vehicle accident, paramedics often rush car accident victims to emergency rooms for medical treatment. In that moment, no one is thinking about the costs involved, only about getting their loved ones the help they clearly need. And in some cases, the injured individuals may not be in any sort of condition to understand, much less consent to, the costs of care.

And yet, in the weeks and months following, many of these accident victims face the surprise of enormous and unanticipated bills totaling hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

The Insurance Commissioner of the state of Washington, Mike Kreidler, is trying to change that with his proposed House Bill 2447.

What does House Bill 2447 change?

At the simplest level, it requires hospitals and other emergency providers to provide necessary care without regard to insurance provisions regarding in-network and out-of-network care. Essentially, what HB 2447proposes is that the provider and insurance company work out between themselves any difference in fees between what an in-network provider would have covered what an out-of-network provider would cover, leaving the injured party out of the equation entirely.

There are some substantial requirements that an injured party must meet. First, the injured party must have an emergency condition that requires emergency treatment. The standard for this is that "a prudent layperson" would have believed the situation constituted an emergency.

Second, if the victim received emergency services in a hospital or other setting that does not participate with the injured party's insurance, the standard requires that the prudent layperson believe that waiting to bring them to a participating location would jeopardize their health or recovery. Health insurers also cannot demand the opportunity for prior authorization if that would create a delay and cause further harm.

So what does this mean for an accident victim?

Obviously, no one plans to get into an accident. But, under the proposed legislation, accident victims (or others) who require emergency treatment can know that they will only be responsible for their co-pays, co-insurance, and deductible amounts in the event of an emergency. It removes the surprise aspect of bills after the fact and ensures that people will know what they are responsible for in advance.

Of course, in the event that another party’s negligence causes an accident, victims may be able to recover damages for medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. This would include emergency treatment costs. If you or someone you care about suffered injuries in an accident caused by another person, talk to a car accident attorney at Max Meyers Law PLLC. Contact us at 425-242-5595 today.

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