HEALTH & WEALTH: There are many connections between physical health and financial health, from inadequate health insurance to insufficient protections to prevent the consequences of deep medical debt. Ideas for addressing them abound—and we will closely examine some of them at our online Health and Financial Wealth sessions on Sept. 29 and 30. In a 90-minute online session each day, Consumer Action will bring together non-profit and industry experts and community representatives to discuss critical topics like surprise medical billing, medical debt collection, telemedicine, and innovative solutions for access to health care for underrepresented consumers. The convening is presented by Walmart. (DOWNLOAD a PDF flyer with a full description of the panels.)

Directly following the final session on the 30th, Consumer Action will present its 2020 Consumer Excellence Awards as part of the organization's 49th anniversary reception. To attend, please register.

Support the convening with your $50 donation to Consumer Action. CLICK HERE to register. (The program will air over the GoToWebinar platform.) We have a limited number of scholarships for non-profit staff members. EMAIL to request one.

If you can afford more, please consider a sponsorship. Sponsors will receive registration codes to attend the convening and the Consumer Excellence Awards ceremony.


Day One | Sept. 29, 1:30-3 p.m.

Keynote & Moderator: Herb Weisbaum (Consumer reporter, KOMO Radio and


  • Jennifer Bosco (National Consumer Law Center)
  • Jane Sheehan (Families USA)
  • Congresswoman Allyson Y. Schwartz (Better Medicare Alliance)

‘Surprise’ Medical Bills. The panel discussion will focus on the surprise medical bills received by insured individuals who thought they were accessing covered medical services. The unexpected bills most often result from “balance billing”—when insurance payments don’t cover the charges for out-of-network doctors and hospitals and the patient is held liable. Many states have some protections against surprise billing, but very few can actually protect patients who wander inadvertently into this trap. Topics will include: how the CARES Act prohibits surprise/balance billing; loopholes in consumer protections; and how consumers can avoid balance billing and fight unfair charges.

Medical Debt Collection. The discussion will center on the prevalent (and growing) problem of aggressive medical debt collection and the thousands of lawsuits being launched by hospitals around the country attempting to collect unpaid medical bills. Six in 10 bankruptcies have been linked to medical debt, and some patients even have been threatened with arrest over outstanding medical bills.

Coverage and Care: Innovative solutions. The discussion will include: Medicare Advantage programs that may offer additional coverage beyond that of original Medicare, such as dental, vision and hearing care, and transportation to medical providers; how newly uninsured and other uncovered consumers can access health care; tactics for low-income consumers to reduce medical debt; and tips for negotiating debt down to affordable levels.

Day Two | Sept. 30, 1:30-3 p.m.

Moderator: Herb Weisbaum (Consumer reporter, KOMO Radio and


  • Pam Dixon (World Privacy Forum)
  • Sarah Green (NextGen Healthcare)
  • Dr. Kumar Dharmarajan (Clover Health)
  • Dr. Katharine Wibberly (Mid Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center)

Telemedicine and Telehealth. COVID-19 has thrust the issue of remote health care into the limelight. Is it here to stay? What barriers might prevent widespread acceptance after the pandemic? Panelists will discuss the effectiveness of and access to virtual medicine and health care; who can and cannot benefit; models for providing care; and if and when services are covered by health insurance.

Medical Data Protection. During the pandemic, surveys have found that consumers might be willing to share more health data in order to assist contact tracing and other public health initiatives. Panelists will discuss the privacy, security and minimization of health data; the conflict between public wellbeing and personal privacy rights; and the adequacy of federal health privacy law and state telemedicine laws.

3-3:30 p.m.

Consumer Excellence Awards. Following our last panel, we will honor this year’s recipients of Consumer Action’s Consumer Excellence Awards: Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman; Families USA; and Kaiser Health News. Click here to learn more about our 2020 honorees.


Bank of America
Better Medicare Alliance
Wells Fargo


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