New Protections Against Medical Debt Start Today for Texans

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By: TAHP | Friday, September 1, 2023

What’s new: Starting today, Texans have new protections when it comes to medical debt. SB 490 ensures patients receive an itemized bill before any debt collection.

Why it matters: Medical debt is a patient crisis. Texas is ground zero.

  • Tarrant County, one of our nation’s 20 most populous counties, has the highest concentration of medical debt in the United States. Second is Dallas County, credit bureau data shows.
  • Approximately one third of the 100 million adults in the U.S. with health care debt owe money for hospitalization, according to a poll conducted by KFF. Nearly half of these individuals owe a minimum of $5,000, while about a quarter have debts exceeding $10,000.

The Details of SB 490 by Sen. Bryan Hughes and Rep. Caroline Harris:

  • Transparency First: Requires health care facilities to issue an itemized bill before initiating debt collection.
  • Detailed Billing: Bills will detail all health care services and supplies, including the individual costs for each.
  • Accountability: Licensing agencies can discipline providers who do not comply with the bill’s requirements.
  • Effective Immediately: Starting Sept. 1, 2023, HHSC begins its enforcement of the law, with additional rules to be published in the forthcoming months.

The bottom line: By granting patients access to itemized bills, SB 490 empowers patients to be proactive in managing their health care expenses and protects Texans from abuses in debt collection processes.

  • The passage and signing of this bill underscores the dedication of lawmakers and advocates to prioritize patient well-being and ensure transparency in health care prices and billing.

What’s next: Texans need more protection against excessive health care prices, and that means even greater transparency and further protections against potentially unfair billing.

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