New Law to Ban Many Surprise Medical Bills

Woman with surprise medical bill
Photo by Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock.com

Patients fed up with receiving surprise medical bills might get some relief beginning in 2022.

The pandemic stimulus and federal funding package that President Donald J. Trump signed into law this week contains a law — the No Surprises Act — that generally bans the practice of balance billing without a patient’s advance consent.

This costly maneuver occurs when an out-of-network medical provider treats you without you realizing that the provider is not in your insurance company’s network.

For example, an out-of-network doctor may treat you in an emergency situation. It’s even possible that an out-of-network physician or laboratory would provide care for you at an in-network hospital.

Currently, insurance companies can bill patients for the difference between the provider’s charge and the amount allowed by the patient’s insurer.

For example, such a balance-billing process might be used if the provider’s charge is $100, but your insurance company’s allowed amount is just $70. In that case, you would owe the $30 necessary to pay the difference between the two amounts.

However, this practice effectively will become illegal on Jan. 1, 2022. Specifically, out-of-network providers generally will not be able to balance-bill you unless they notify you that they are out of network and give you an estimate of charges 72 hours before treating you, and you consent to receiving that out-of-network care.

The new law does not cover all medical services. NPR reports that the bill does not extend to ground ambulance services, for example.

However, Zack Cooper, an associate professor of public health and economics at Yale University who studies health care pricing, still praised the new law. He tells NPR:

“No law is perfect. But it fundamentally protects patients from being balance-billed. That’s a remarkable achievement.”

The new law offers other protections. Consumer Reports says it guarantees that all emergency room medical care will be billed to consumers at the “in-network” rate. That is true even if the hospital or individual health care provider is not in the patient’s insurance network.

The law also mandates that insurers and health care providers work together to determine payment amounts. In the past, patients often have had to negotiate payment of surprise medical bills on their own.

Consumer Reports notes that the new law applies to most types of health insurance, including those offered through the Affordable Care Act marketplace. However, the law does not apply to short-term health insurance plans that typically cover people for six months or less.

For more ways to contain your medical costs, check out “5 Ways Anyone Can Save on Out-of-Pocket Health Care Costs.”

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
12 Easy Ways To Make Make Money Online Without Leaving Home
12 Easy Ways To Make Make Money Online Without Leaving Home

If you’re hanging around the house a lot these days — and who isn’t? — use your time to make some extra cash.

7 Small Appliances You Don’t Need — and What to Use Instead
7 Small Appliances You Don’t Need — and What to Use Instead

Here’s how to get the job done without blowing money — or losing counter space.

New Ways to Save Money on Insurance of Every Kind
New Ways to Save Money on Insurance of Every Kind

Tech startups are making it easy to find the best rates for all kinds of insurance policies — and get covered fast.

7 Surprising Features That Boost Your Home Value
7 Surprising Features That Boost Your Home Value

You can add value to your home without hiring a contractor to do expensive renovations.

8 Surprising Things No One Tells You About Retirement
8 Surprising Things No One Tells You About Retirement

Knowing what to expect can help you prepare for — and adjust to — life in your golden years.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Whether you resell it for a big profit or add it to your own wardrobe, this type of clothing is a hidden steal.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?
Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Researchers say too many doctors are overlooking this potential source of hypertension.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider
Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider

A new study has bad news for the millions of Americans who spend money on multivitamins.

21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss
21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss

Start off the new year by implementing these small-but-smart savings strategies. They’ll soon add up.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

10 Cars You Are Most Likely to Keep for 15 Years
10 Cars You Are Most Likely to Keep for 15 Years

The cars that owners hold onto the longest have one thing in common, a new study shows.

Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021
Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021

More than 700 prescription medications have seen price hikes so far this year. Here’s a look at the worst.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

5 States Lowering Taxes This Year and 2 Raising Them
5 States Lowering Taxes This Year and 2 Raising Them

State personal income tax rates, brackets and deductions just changed in these places.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster
7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster

These tips can get your bathroom sparkling with little time and no elbow grease.

11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked
11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked

Does your retirement budget account for all of these costs?

20 Amazon Purchases We Loved in 2020
20 Amazon Purchases We Loved in 2020

These practical products made everyday life a little easier last year — and will do so in the new year, too.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.