East Texas physicians, patients benefiting from new law

East Texas physicians, patients benefiting from new law
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff

Texas legislators have extended a helping hand by taking a load off of high medical bills.

"I can't think of any cons," said Merlene Wilcox, the front office supervisor for the Center of Arthritis and Respiratory Diseases.

The new state law will help residents who have fallen victim of balance billing, which occurs when a physician bills a patient for medical expenses not covered by the patient's insurance.

Senate Bill 481 applies when a patient goes to an in-network hospital but gets a bill later in the mail from a physician who doesn't have a contract with their health plan. This is something that happens often.

"We do receive requests from insurance companies - sometimes, for patients that were seen in the hospital that we did not accept their insurance," Wilcox said.

This is something that The Center of Arthritis and Respiratory Diseases in Lufkin has been assisting with for a while.

"We'll work with insurance companies in many cases to try to help the patients with what their balances are going to be," Wilcox said.

Thanks to the new law, East Texans who have medical bills of $500 or more can seek mediation through the Texas Department of Insurance.

"It'll help the physicians, and it'll help the patients because it will help get the balances paid, more often than not," Wilcox said.

According to the new law, a physician is required to notify patients of the right to seek mediation when sending the bill.

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