New law won’t stop all surprise medical bills

Experts say doing your homework beforehand can save you from falling into one of the “No Surprise Act” loopholes.
Published: Mar. 8, 2022 at 4:33 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - No one likes surprises, especially when it’s a medical bill totaling hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Unsuspecting consumers have complained about them for years, and now there’s a new law that should help. But, there are some important exceptions you need to know about.

For most people, the No Surprises Act means they’ll no longer receive an unexpected medical bill after being treated by a doctor or going to a medical facility they didn’t choose in the first place. That’s right, no more surprise bills from emergency room doctors or other out-of-network hospital providers like anesthesiologists and radiologists when you get care at an in-network facility.

The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates the No Surprises Act will apply to as many as 10 million surprise medical bills every year.

While all of this sounds great, the law still has some glaring holes. Take urgent care facilities where visits are covered only if the facility is licensed as an emergency service provider. But how do you know that?

Experts with Consumer Reports say it’s best if you prepare ahead of time and call several in your area to ask if they’re licensed to provide emergency medical services.

And then there are lab tests at your regular doctor’s office. Be sure they use a lab that’s in-network. Again, do your homework before to avoid surprises.

Because the law is new, hospitals and providers are still adjusting to the new rules, which means they could accidentally send you a medical bill. If that happens, contact your insurance company to see what’s going on. And be prepared to call your provider because it might have to resubmit your claim for full coverage. If that doesn’t work, you can file a federal complaint online at cms.gov.

If you need further help with a surprise medical bill, contact the Patient Advocate Foundation at patientadvocate.org. It may be able to help you deal with unaffordable medical bills.