Georgia senators unanimously approved legislation Tuesday that could allow patients to keep their doctors for the remainder of the year if their physician leaves the insurance network.
Senate Bill 352 aims to protect insurance policyholders by saying that the provider directory the insurance company shows them when they’re signing up — the policy’s network of covered hospitals and doctors — is legally binding. Under the bill the company must cover those caregivers as being in-network for the whole policy year.
“If you choose a provider, you get to keep that provider,” said Bainbridge Republican state Sen. Dean Burke who sponsored the bill and is a physician.
The legislation has exceptions that include if the provider “unilaterally” leaves the network.
Had the legislation been in place last year, it could have given people like those in Cobb County, where the insurance giant Anthem dropped WellStar hospitals from its individual networks just over a month after the policy year started.
Under current law, if a Georgian signs up with an insurance company because their doctor or hospital is in network, and that ends up to not be true, the patient either has to change doctors or pay out-of-network costs.
That is true in cases where the directory was mistaken because the insurance company didn’t update it, or if the insurance company decides to drop the provider mid-year.
The legislation now heads to the House for its consideration.
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