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NY agency investigating 'surprise' medical bills

January 6, 2012
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ALBANY, N.Y.—The head of the New York agency overseeing insurers says an investigation has begun into large unexpected medical bills some consumers face following procedures such as colonoscopies for doctors they didn't know would be involved.

Financial Services Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky says the review of "surprise balance billing" follows consumer complaints, and they are trying to determine the scope of the problem.

He says people enrolled in preferred provider organizations may choose less expensive physicians within the network, have a procedure, and a month later get a large bill from another doctor, often an anesthesiologist or pathologist, from outside the network.

He says doctors need to make it clearer in advance they're bringing someone else in and there should be incentives for networks to have an adequate array of doctors.

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