In a previous blog post, Five Things To Know Before Your Next Healthcare Visit, we discuss how patients can be billed by out-of-network physicians even when they are going to an in-network facility. This leads patients with medical bills that their insurance won’t even think about covering because they are not contractually obligated.

For instance, say an individual is in an accident, and he is unconscious upon arriving at the hospital. Doctors determine he needs a procedure. The hospital, surgeon, and the anesthesiologist can all be denied by insurance if they are not in-network, leaving the patient — who had no say in the matter — with high medical bills later.

Photo credit: AJC1 on VisualHunt / CC BY-SA

The No Surprises Act aims to put an end to this. The bill was introduced this week to Congress as a means to end surprise medical bills. According to NPR, under the No Surprises Act, “the measure would require health care facilities to provide 24-hour notice to patients seeking elective treatment that they are about to see an out-of-network provider. It would prohibit the facility or provider from billing patients for whatever amount their insurance companies did not cover for that service. And it would set provider payment rates based on the market in that specific area.”

There are a few other bills with similar goals proposed, and you can learn more about those here, as well.

The AHIP and the Brookings Institute both applauded the bi-partisan measure. Brookings noted that “establishing a minimum insurer payment that would likely avoid increasing health care spending relative to the status quo.”

Surprise medical bills sometimes lead people on a path toward bankruptcy, though a study from the National Institutes of Health shows that number far lower than often reported.

Regardless, perhaps a larger portion of the population will be able to keep their saving for other expenses. This Act certainly does not solve the healthcare issues we currently battle on a daily basis, but it does take a great stride in the right direction.

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