Balance Billing Protection – No Surprises Act
Your Rights and Protections Against Surprise Medical Bills
When you get emergency care or are treated by an out-of-network provider at an in-network hospital or ambulatory surgical center, you are protected from balance billing. In these cases, you should not be charged more than your plan’s copayments, coinsurance and/or deductible.
What is “balance billing” (sometimes called “surprise billing”)?
When you see a doctor or other health care provider, you may owe certain out-of-pocket costs, like a copayment, coinsurance, or deductible. You may have additional costs, or you may have to pay the entire bill if you see a provider or visit a health care facility that is not in your health plan’s network.
“Out-of-network” means providers and facilities that have not signed a contract with your health plan to provide services. Out-of-network providers may be allowed to bill you for the difference between what your plan pays and the full amount charged for a service. This is called “balance billing.” This amount is likely more than in-network costs for the same service and might not count toward your plan’s deductible or annual out-of-pocket limit.
“Surprise billing” is an unexpected balance bill. This can happen when you cannot control who is involved in your care—like when you have an emergency or when you schedule a visit at an in-network facility but are unexpectedly treated by an out-of-network provider.
You are protected from balance billing for:
If you have an emergency medical condition and get emergency services from an out-of-network provider or facility, the most the provider or facility can bill you is your plan’s in-network cost-sharing amount (such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles). You cannot be balance billed for these emergency services. This includes services you may get after you are in stable condition, unless you give written consent and give up your protections not to be balanced billed for these post-stabilization services.
If your healthcare coverage is provided through a Florida Preferred Provider Organization (“PPO”) or a Florida Healthcare Management Organization (“HMO”), then Florida law protects you from balance billing for emergency services. You are only responsible for paying your copay, deductible and coinsurance for emergency care.
Certain services at an in-network hospital or ambulatory surgical center
When you get services from an in-network hospital or ambulatory surgical center, certain providers there may be out-of-network. In these cases, the most those providers can bill you is your plan’s in-network cost-sharing amount. This applies to emergency medicine, anesthesia, pathology, radiology, laboratory, neonatology, assistant surgeon, hospitalist, or intensivist services. These providers cannot balance bill you and may not ask you to give up your protections not to be balance billed. If you get other types of services at these in-network facilities, out-of-network providers cannot balance bill you, unless you give written consent and give up your protections.
You are never required to give up your protections from balance billing. You also are not required to get out-of-network care. You can choose a provider or facility in your plan’s network.
Florida law also protects you from balance billing in non-emergency situations. Florida law does not allow Florida HMOs to balance bill you for non-emergency, covered services. If you have a PPO, your provider cannot bill you more than your in-network, cost-sharing amount for care at an in-network facility provided by an out-of-network provider if you did not have the ability and opportunity to choose a participating provider.
When balance billing is not allowed, you also have these protections:
You are only responsible for paying your share of the cost (like the copayments, coinsurance, and deductible that you would pay if the provider or facility were in-network). Your health plan will pay any additional costs to out-of-network providers and facilities directly.
Generally, your health plan must:
- Cover emergency services without requiring you to get approval for services in advance (also known as “prior authorization”).
- Cover emergency services by out-of-network providers.
- Base what you owe the provider or facility (cost sharing) on what it would pay an in-network provider or facility and show that amount in your explanation of benefits.
- Count any amount you pay for emergency services or out-of-network services toward your deductible and out-of-pocket limit.
If you think you have been wrongly billed, contact the No Surprises Help Desk (NSHD) at 1-800-985-3059.