Medical bills are often confusing. There are so many companies, plans and procedures, and costs can vary. But if you get a surprise bill, the Texas Department of Insurance may be able to help.
When Camille Eckersley had a pain in her belly that wouldn't go away, doctors in the emergency room quickly told her why.
"He said, 'Do you realize you have a golf-ball size mass on your pancreas?'" Eckersley recalled.
She didn't know, nor did she expect a diagnosis of advanced cancer.
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The news was grim at best, but Eckersley wanted to fight. Her doctor scheduled surgery to remove the mass, and the treatment went well.
But she was surprised to see a medical bill from one of the doctors in the operating room.
"It was the physician's assistant, and I had no clue there was one in the operating room. It was $15,600," Eckersley said.
She had more than a half-million dollars of medical bills, but $15,000 for one doctor who was out of network was where she drew the line.
Something at the bottom of the bill caught her eye.
"It had a sticker on there that said if you disagree with this bill you could call Texas Department of Insurance," she said.
She did and filled out a form giving the state agency her insurance information and her bill.
They reached out to her insurance company to discuss how much money the insurance company paid on Eckersley's behalf and to set up a meeting to discuss the amount of money the insurance company paid.
But Eckersley says no meeting was needed.
"The insurance company said no mediation, we'll pay the doctor and Camille will owe nothing," she recalled.
The Texas Department of Insurance is the state agency that regulates insurance companies that do business in Texas.
The state agency helped more than 1,200 Texans hold health insurance companies accountable for balance billing in the past few months, and they're 94-percent successful in getting the insurance companies to pay more.
The TDI wants more people to know it is able to help. The agency created a video telling Eckersley's story and encouraging others to call if they have medical billing issues similar to hers.