Starting Sept. 1, Travis County STAR Flight and other state-funded air ambulance services will no longer be required to “bill the balance.” The term refers to the practice of billing an individual for insurance and then billing the individual for any remaining costs associated with the services.
“When we respond, it usually means it’s the sickest and most injured patients,” Erick Ullman, chief clinical supervisor at Travis County STAR Flight, said in a news release. “Patients experience something completely unexpected, something they know will change their lives.”
This practice has led to many people receiving surprise bills from air ambulance trips. Senate Bill 790, which took effect Sept. 1, allows counties to stop the “bill balancing” process.
“With the SB 790, we feel good as critical care providers knowing that patients won’t be surprised with a bill later,” Ullman said.
Prior to the change, the law required Travis and other counties to collect any money owed for STAR Flight services, which meant it had to use third-party debt collectors to settle outstanding bills.
“Many STAR Flight patients face difficult roads to recovery,” said Travis County Commissioner Brigid Shea, who serves on the legislative subcommittee. “The Court of Commissioners requested this change in state law so that our residents can focus on their recovery without the fear or added stress of trying to figure out how to pay their bills.”