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No Surprises Act: New Law Aimed at Ending “Surprise” Medical Bills Takes Effect January 1, 2022
As reported by NPR, a new law aimed at ending surprise medical bills for millions of Americans recently took effect. Passed by Congress in 2020 as part of the coronavirus relief package, the No Surprises Act establishes new federal protections for patients with private health insurance that prohibit health care providers from billing patients at higher rates when they unknowingly receive out-of-network care. The law also prevents insurers from charging patients for services that aren’t covered under their medical plans. To settle these kinds of bills, the law, instead, requires that doctors and insurers work out a deal between themselves.
Many health policy experts are saying the No Surprises Act is likely to reduce premiums in addition to protecting patients from surprise bills. Once the law takes effect, “it’s completely irrelevant whether an emergency room doctor is in network or not,” said Loren Adler, associate director of the University of Southern California-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy. “For all intents and purposes, that doctor is in network. The patient will pay the in-network cost sharing and there is a price the provider has to accept, and the insurer has to pay.”