The Health IOU Project works to help Californians avoid medical debt and underinsurance through policy change, public education and legal assistance.

The California Health IOU Project is a collaborative effort, based at Health Access, to protect consumers from medical debt by:

  • Monitoring and working with hospitals, regulatory agencies and consumer attorneys to ensure compliance with California's Hospital Fair Pricing Act of 2006 (AB774, Chan), which created first-in-the-nation consumer pricing protections.
  • Advocating for additional consumer protections against underinsurance and medical debt, such as limits on billing of the uninsured by Emergency Room doctors (AB1503, enacted 9/29/10), limits on predatory marketing of credit by dentists (AB171, enacted 10/11/09), and benefit standards for health insurance (AB1334, pending in CA Senate). 
  • Education and training of public and private agencies, advocacy groups and the public to ensure that Californians know they have a legal right to fair hospital prices.  Contact sabbass@health-access.org to request a training at your workplace or community meeting. 

Faced with shrinking health coverage and growing costs, many Californians either go without health coverage or purchase bare-bones coverage, often marketed as “catastrophic” coverage, in an effort to protect themselves. 

These Californians are at risk of being overcharged by medical providers, typically paying four times more for care than insured patients, and risk worse health outcomes by delaying needed care.

IOU project partners work to ensure that:

  • uninsured and underinsured patients do not pay more for medical care than everyone else does,
  • consumers have access to full and accurate pricing information,
  • the health insurance plans that consumers buy have value, and,
  • consumers can know that value when they purchase the plan