Maybe They Should Call It The Slightly Fewer Surprises Act
On paper, it looks like 2022 will be the year when medical bills impose less of a debt burden on American consumers. Medical debt is the single biggest contributor to most people’s financial struggles; nationwide, approximately $88 billion of unpaid medical bills are bouncing around from one collection agency to another and hindering people’s efforts to get out of debt. At the beginning of this year, the No Surprises Act went into effect. It states that out-of-network providers who treat you on an emergency basis cannot bill you for more than what your insurance company would bill you if an in-network provider had administered the treatment. In its first few months, it has already reduced the size of many new medical bills resulting from emergency treatment. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the new law will stop an estimated 10 million surprisingly large medical bills from being sent each year. Unfortunately, though, the No Surprises Act has some loopholes by means of which you could still get surprise bills. To find out more, contact a Plantation debt lawyer.
Ways That Surprise Medical Bills Can Still Sneak Up on You
Pursuant to the No Surprises Act, all emergency treatment must cost you as if it were covered in-network by your insurance company. This means that, if the physicians, radiologists, or anesthesiologists who treat you in the hospital do not normally work with your insurance company, it is not your problem; you are only responsible for paying the in-network rate, and then the provider and the insurance company have to work out the other details of reimbursement. This goes a long way toward solving the problem of thousands of dollars in bills resulting in an emergency room visit that only required minor treatment (even if it required this treatment promptly or was only meant to confirm that it is safe to wait until Monday morning, when your doctor’s office opens).
Two problems remain, however. One loophole is that, if your in-network doctor sends your blood samples to an out-of-network lab, the lab can still charge you the out-of-network rate. The other is that it is hit or miss whether the urgent care center you go to qualifies as an emergency treatment facility.
If you get a surprise bill that slipped through the cracks of the No Surprises Act, you have several options. First, you can go to the CMS.gov website and file a complaint. Second, you can contact the Patient Advocate Foundation to stop the bill from appearing on your credit report. Third, you can contact a debt lawyer about settling your debt, consolidating your debt, or filing for bankruptcy protection.
Contact a South Florida Debt Lawyer About Surprise Medical Bills
Even if the NO Surprises Act reduces your future medical bills, you still have to do something about your old medical debt. A South Florida debt lawyer can help you look at the big picture if old and new medical bills are messing up your finances. Contact Nowack & Olson, PLLC in Plantation, Florida to discuss your case.