NoHLA Stands Up for Consumers by Speaking Out against Surprise “Out of Network” Medical Bills


As Julie Drake struggled in pain, her husband called ahead, to make sure that Tacoma General was in their health insurance network. Then he rushed her off to the ER, where doctors discovered kidney stones and organ damage. She spent two nights in the hospital, and made a good recovery.

Commissioner Kreidler, Julie Drake, and Janet Varon at the Capitol

Commissioner Kreidler, Julie Drake, and Janet Varon at the Capitol

But as the medical bills rolled in, Julie and her husband were stunned to learn that the ER doctors who saw her were not in their network, even though the hospital was. This left the Drakes in a quandary: should they pay the entire bill despite their legitimate belief that it would be fully covered, or should they spend countless hours trying to negotiate their way out of a billing dispute between their doctors and their insurance company?

The Drakes are not alone. Nearly 1 in 3 Washingtonians received a surprise medical bill in the past two years, according to a new Consumer Reports survey.

To protect consumers from ER troubles like the Drakes endured, NoHLA is teaming up with the Consumers Union to support House Bill 2447, a measure requested by state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. Brigid Anderson, NoHLA’s newest volunteer attorney, has analyzed the surprise billing issue – no easy task – and is providing valuable support.

Janet Varon, Executive Director of NoHLA, joined with Julie Drake and Commissioner Kreidler, to testify in favor of HB 2447 at its first hearing before the House Health Care and Wellness Committee. Ms. Drake spoke about her experience, telling lawmakers, “I know we have a complicated, often cumbersome, always expensive healthcare system in our country, but the people trying to do the right thing, purchasing the best coverage that they can afford, should not be the ones getting slammed with these surprise costs.” And Ms. Varon reinforced the point in her testimony: “People should be able to get emergency care without fear that they will be hit with large out-of-network costs.” Watch the bill’s progress as it moves through the Legislature, and please lend your support:

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