Surprise Billing

marketplace-billingEvery health insurance company is required to develop a network of providers so that its customers have access to doctors, clinics, and hospitals. The Affordable Care Act has expanded insurance enrollment for many previously uninsured populations. Washington CAN has been working with partner communities, the Health Benefits Exchange, and the Insurance Commissioner to improve the rules governing how the provider networks are serving the needs of the newly insured.

We face two major challenges: First, are the providers close enough to the patients to permit them to get to the doctor or hospital when they need to? Second, are the networks sufficiently diverse to provide adequate language access and cultural sensitivity to their new insurance customers?

Frequently, access is a matter of proximity – how long does it take and what does it cost to get to the doctor? Many of the new insurance customers live in areas where doctors have not traditionally located their practices. Can low-income people find their way to a doctor or hospital located in another part of their community or does distance provide a significant barrier?

Another issue we are advocating on is, if a low-income person can find a way to the doctor or hospital, will providers be able to communicate with them in their primary language? Will providers be sensitive to cultural differences? Will there be appropriate outreach to these communities so as to improve their participation in the health care system?

Both the Insurance Commissioner and the Health Benefits Exchange are reviewing these issues. The outcome of debates are uncertain, particularly given that the insurance industry is pioneering what they call “skinny networks” – networks that include fewer, rather than more, providers.

Get Your Buns Covered by Roberta Riley

Raging Grannies Blog

Mary first caught my eye as she strode down a busy thoroughfare in a flimsy hospital gown, with the sun glistening off (what looked like) her bare buttocks.

“Uncovered” was the message on her sign. She and her friends, Seattle’s Raging Grannies, took to the streets that day, alongside thousands of others, to protest the fact that too many Americans simply couldn’t afford health insurance. Had there been a prize for best costume, Mary would’ve won, hands down. The Raging Grannies made a difference that day by adding their creativity and spunk to the tidal wave of public pressure that pushed Congress to enact the Affordable Care Act in 2009.

Today, the Raging Grannies celebrate the good things our new health law has brought to people’s lives: from little things, likeJulie’s free flu shot, to mid-size things like Kristi’s free IUD andIngrid’s free colonoscopy, to big things like the brain surgery that saved Joie’s life.

But with enrollment deadlines and tax day just around the corner, Mary decided it was time to pull her costume out of the closet, once again. Enjoy as the Raging Grannies sing, and Mary shoots the moon, to make an important point: NOW is the time to sign up for the affordable health insurance YOU need and deserve.

Then shake your backside straight over to a computer and get your own buns covered. Remember, tax penalties go up the longer you delay enrolling.

  • If you live in Washington State, go to and sign up before the April 17, 2015 deadline.
  • If you live in another state, go to and sign-up before the April 30, 2015 deadline.

Don’t leave yourself exposed to medical debt:#Get Covered Now