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Colorado law to protect patients from surprise medical bills went into effect on Jan. 1

Doctors required to provide notice
Posted: 5:16 PM, Jan 03, 2020
Updated: 2020-01-04 09:37:53-05
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DENVER -- Next time you go to the doctor, you should receive a notice about a new Colorado law that promises to put an end to surprise medical bills.

Nikki Briggs knows what it's like to get one of those bills. She went to a freestanding emergency room when she started to experience severe stomach pain and soon learned she had appendicitis. She said she was transferred to a nearby hospital, where she was told she would have surgery the next morning.

"We even did ask, 'Do you take my insurance?' They did take my insurance is the scary part," said Briggs.

Although the hospital was in-network, Briggs said she received a bill for more than $4,000 because the surgeon didn't take her insurance. She tried to fight the bill and it ended up in court. She lost the case and by the time she had to pay, her wages had been garnished and a lien was placed on her home.

"That’s the only way I can make this right for myself, is to try and make sure it doesn’t happen to other people," said Briggs.

Briggs testified in support of HB19-1174, which aimed to protect others from the same billing practices that she experienced. It's often called balance billing or surprise billing.

The law went into effect on Jan. 1 and health care providers are now required to provide notice.

“Consumers should be getting notice or disclosure from carriers, facilities and their doctors about this law and their rights under the law," said Caitlin Westerson, Policy Director for the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative.

Westerson explains that the law applies to patients if they seek emergency care from out-of-network facility or providers. She said it also applies if someone needs non-emergency care at an in-network facility but unknowingly sees an out-of-network provider.

More information about the new law can be found here .