Surprise Medical Bills

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Among the hundreds of new laws that took effect in Texas on Sunday, several are related to health. Here are a handful that took the legislative spotlight. 

Spencer Selvidge for KUT

Texans who get their health insurance from a large employer are more likely to get a surprise bill in an emergency compared to people with similar plans in other states, according to research published Thursday.

Texas is now among more than a dozen states that have cracked down on the practice of surprise medical billing.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, signed legislation Friday shielding patients from getting a huge bill when their insurance company and medical provider can't agree on payment.

Spinal surgery made it possible for Liv Cannon to plant her first vegetable garden.

"It's a lot of bending over and lifting the wheelbarrow and putting stakes in the ground," the 26-year-old says as she surveys the tomatillos, cherry tomatoes and eggplants growing in raised beds behind her house in Austin, Texas. "And none of that I could ever do before."

For the first 24 years of her life, Cannon's activities were limited by chronic pain and muscle weakness.

Spencer Selvidge for KUT

A surprise medical bill may be a thing of the past for many Texans. In a unanimous vote, the Texas House approved a Senate bill banning health care providers from sending steep medical bills to insured Texans in emergencies.

Callie Richmond/KHN

President Donald Trump announced ongoing bipartisan efforts in Congress to tackle surprise medical billing, during an event at the White House on Thursday.

One point drew clear agreement Tuesday during a House subcommittee hearing: When it comes to the problem of surprise medical bills, the solution must protect patients — not demand that they be great negotiators.

Spencer Selvidge for KUT

A bipartisan group of lawmakers announced plans to address surprise medical bills in way that would take the "burden" off Texans.

Carol Marley wants everyone to know what a life-threatening cancer diagnosis looks like in America today.

Yes, it's the chemotherapy that leaves you weak and unable to walk across the room. Yes, it's the litany of tests and treatments – the CT scans and MRIs and biopsies and endoscopies and surgeries and blood draws and radiation and doctor visits. Yes, it's envisioning your funeral, which torments you day and night.

But none of these is her most gnawing, ever present concern.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Consumer advocates and health insurers are pushing Texas lawmakers to address surprise medical bills during this year’s legislative session.