California bans balance billing

Capping years of debate, a new law just went into effect in California banning balance billing, a landmark measure that may further shift the balance of power in the direction of health plans. Several legal challenges regarding balance billing are going before state courts soon, but in the meantime, some hospitals are panicking about how to make ends meet when insurers underpay them.

Among the key backers of the bill was the state's Department of Managed Health Care, which argued that under existing state laws, consumers were having their credit ruined because they didn't pay the hospital's bill, or were paying out of pocket because they didn't know that they weren't responsible for that payment.

Many doctors and hospitals, however, are claiming that this law is unfair. They claim that the Department of Managed Health Care should be acting more quickly against the insurance companies when they underpay or make late payments, instead of going after the doctors themselves, who are just trying to get the money they need to keep in business.

To learn more about this law and the court battles:
- read this L.A. Times piece