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State helpline succeeding in resolving healthcare conflicts

Ashley Hirtzel

A new report released by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office is highlighting the effectiveness of the Health Care Bureau Helpline. The toll-free service has assisted more than 20,000 New Yorkers, 189 of which were Erie County residents.

The helpline has assisted in resolving and investigating approximately 13,000 consumer complaints since 2011. It has helped to save consumers $12.5 million in improper billing by doctors and denial of benefits in less than 3 years.

Schniederman says helpline advocates open an average of 13 cases per day.

“The most common problems callers seem to face are billing errors by healthcare providers, delays in processing insurance claims, and improper denials of claims. This is not really surprising, because almost everyone has or knows someone who has had these kinds of experiences,” said Schneiderman.

Schniederman says he encourages New Yorkers to utilize the service if they are having issues. He says no problem is too big or too small for helpline advocates.  

Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO
The A.G. report, titled: "Real Solutions For Real New Yorkers: Health Care Bureau Helpline."

“In Erie County, a teenager suffered a very serious fall and first responders called an air ambulance to take him to the hospital. They told his family that this is what needs to happen. The health care plan denied the claim saying that air transport was not medically necessary. If you’re a parent with a seriously injured child and the first responders decide that your child needs air transport, you shouldn’t have to question whether or not your insurer will consider that medically necessary. Our advocates intervened in that case and, as a result, the plan paid the air transport claim of nearly $10,000,” said Schneiderman.

The report’s release comes as the New York State Health Exchange prepares for the second open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act on November 15. The helpline can be reached at 1-800-428-9017.