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After CBS News reports on man's surprise medical bill, New York regulators want to change law

Man relieved of massive medical bill

New York state regulators are taking action to help people avoid surprise medical bills after CBS News reported on a Long Island man who was hit with over $650,000 in bills following emergency back surgery. Frank Esposito's insurer initially only covered some of the cost, but it agreed to pay his full claim after CBS News aired his story and state officials looked into his case.

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In response to Esposito's story, New York's Department of Financial Services proposed amending a 2015 law to require insurers to let consumers know their options when they receive a surprise bill, Superintendent of Financial Services Linda Lacewell announced Thursday.

"We are taking this action to strengthen the law so that New Yorkers have all the information they need to avoid surprise medical bills," Lacewell said in a statement. "After hearing about — and resolving — a recent issue, we know that if it could happen to one consumer, it could happen to others."

Insurers would have to send consumers a description of surprise bills and an independent process for resolving them as well as instructions for disputing a bill. Out-of-network doctors who charge consumers for emergency services or surprise bills would also have to let consumers know about the independent dispute resolution process.

Insurers would also have to let consumers know how to file a grievance or an appeal and how to file a complaint with the Department of Financial Services if the insurer decides a bill isn't a surprise bill. Members of the public will have 30 days to comment on the proposed amendment when it's published in the state register on October 23.

In a new series, "Medical Price Roulette," CBS News is collaborating with journalists at ClearHealthCosts to bring transparency to health care markets. We'd like to know what you paid for medical procedures. Share your story and learn how you can search ClearHealthCosts' database of prices in our sample markets. You can also email us at healthcosts@cbsnews.com.

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