An ordinance establishing health care billing transparency in the City of Ketchikan is in front of the city council Thursday.
The ordinance was drafted at the request of City Council Member Judy Zenge. It’s modeled after a similar ordinance in Anchorage.
The measure would require all health care providers to provide an estimate of “reasonably anticipated charges,” or a range of possible charges, within 10 days, if requested by a patient.
The estimate must include a description of services, supplies, billing codes, likely additional fees, and what the individual likely would pay out of pocket.
It also would require health care providers to identify other entities that might charge a patient in connection with treatment, and whether those charges are included in the estimate. The estimate would have to include information about whether the provider is an in-network facility for the patient’s insurance.
Health care facilities also would have to post notices in patient registration areas stating that billing estimates are available upon request.
Failure to comply would result in a fine per incident of $100 per day, with a maximum fine of $1,000.
Ordinances require two votes to pass. Thursday’s vote is the first. If approved, it will come back for a second vote at the next council meeting.
Also Thursday, the council will consider an ordinance increasing water and wastewater rates for cruise ships that dock downtown. That also will be considered in first reading, and would have to come back for a second vote.
The council will vote in second reading on motions to increase community water, wastewater and electric rates. Those increases were included in this year’s budget, but require a separate ordinance before they can be established.
Also on the agenda are first readings for ordinances approving about $3 million in state loan agreements to pay for sewer and water line replacements on Mill Street. Voters approved a bond package for such improvements in 2014.
Thursday’s meeting starts at 7 p.m. in city council chambers. Public comment will be heard at the start of the meeting.