Georgia Senate continues to target ‘surprise medical billing’

06/22/2020 - Atlanta, Georgia - Georgia Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) presents HB 789 in the Senate Chambers on day 36 of the legislative session at the Georgia State Capitol building in Atlanta, Monday, June 22, 2020. HB 789 passed in the Senate Chambers. The bill was immediately transmitted to the House. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

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06/22/2020 - Atlanta, Georgia - Georgia Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) presents HB 789 in the Senate Chambers on day 36 of the legislative session at the Georgia State Capitol building in Atlanta, Monday, June 22, 2020. HB 789 passed in the Senate Chambers. The bill was immediately transmitted to the House. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

The Georgia Senate approved another piece of legislation Monday that aims to cut down on instances where patients are hit with hefty medical bills after visiting the doctor.

It now goes back to the House for its approval.

House Bill 789 would help patients check which doctors in the four most common specialties — anesthesiology, emergency medicine, pathology and radiology — would be covered by their insurance. The legislation would require insurance companies to keep an online directory of these specialists and mark whether each doctor accepts their insurance plan.

If signed into law, the bill would go into effect in October, allowing the ratings to be posted before open enrollment begins for health insurance. The effective date would give insurance companies time to let their customers know about the changes and allow them to update their websites.

Lawmakers have spent several years trying to tamp down on "surprise medical billing," including House Bill 888's passage last week.

HB 888 would require patients to pay no more than their deductible, co-pay or other in-network payment level determined by their plan. It’s now on Gov. Brian Kemp’s desk, waiting to be signed or vetoed.

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