BCBSTX is committed to making the health care system work. The following new reforms demonstrate solid progress in protecting our members and all Texas health care consumers. It’s part of the work BCBSTX has been doing for 90 years to provide our members access to quality, cost-effective health care. Our members and indeed, Texans, should not expect, nor accept, anything less.
In 2015, the Texas Legislature adopted SB 425, which requires all FSERs to clearly disclose the following information:
- The facility is an FSER
- The facility charges rates compare to a hospital ER and may also charge a facility fee
- A doctor that provides care at the facility may not be in the patient’s health plan network
- A doctor providing care at the facility may bill separately from the facility
A law enacted in 2017 allows PPO members to seek mediation for surprise bills from any out-of-network emergency provider, including FSERs and out-of-network clinicians who provide care at in-network facilities.
- SB 507 Expands mediation to more out-of-network emergency care providers who balance bill, including FSERs and ER facilities; and to all non-network, facility-based providers at network hospitals.
- This protection also expands disclosure requirements for health plan Explanation of Benefits and providers bills.
Another law enacted in 2017 requires independent FSERs to explicitly inform patients whether they’re in a health plan’s network.
- HB 3276 states a FSER must post a notice that either lists the health plans for which it is in-network or state that it does not participate in any health plan.
While these recent reforms represent progress in protecting health care consumers in Texas, still more work needs to be done. Currently, mediation is not available for all consumers or for all emergency services. Also, mediation provides valuable patient protections but does not address the underlying economics causing most balance billing, and despite efforts to inform members, consumers are still confused by FSERs.
We will continue to work with our industry partners and organizations, including the Texas Association of Health Plans , to work with policymakers and make sure our members in Texas are prepared to make SmartER Care choices in 2018.