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State Efforts to Protect Consumers from Surprise Balance Billing

Only nine states — California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Oregon — have comprehensive protections for surprise bills. The Commonwealth Fund conducted a study, published in June 2017, that found that 21 states had laws offering consumers at least some protections in a balance billing situation. But only six of those states — California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, and New York — had laws meeting their standard for “comprehensive” protections. In 2017 and 2018, states continued taking steps to protect consumers. Four states — Arizona, Maine, Minnesota, and Oregon — created balance-billing consumer protections for the first time, and two states — New Hampshire and New Jersey — substantially expanded existing protections. The Commonwealth Fund now classify New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Oregon as states offering comprehensive protections against balance billing. As of December 2018, 25 states have laws offering some balance-billing protection to their residents, and nine of them offer comprehensive protections. A federal solution could offer a more comprehensive approach to protecting consumers from surprise medical bills than state laws.

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