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OMB Control Number: 0938-1401 

Expiration Date: 05/31/2025 

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 shouldn’t 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 have to pay the entire bill if you see a provider or visit a health care facility that isn’t in your health plan’s network.  

 

“Out-of-network” means providers and facilities that haven’t 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 can’t 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. Surprise medical bills could cost thousands of dollars depending on the procedure or service.  

 

You’re protected from balance billing for: 

 

Emergency services  

If you have an emergency medical condition and get emergency services from an out-of-network provider or facility, the most they can bill you is your plan’s in-network cost-sharing amount (such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles). You can’t be balance billed for these emergency services. This includes services you may get after you’re in stable condition, unless you give written consent and give up your protections not to be balanced billed for these post-stabilization services.   

 

 

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 can’t 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 can’t balance bill you, unless you give written consent and give up your protections.  

 

You’re never required to give up your protections from balance billing. You also aren’t required to get out-of-network care. You can choose a provider or facility in your plan’s network.  

 

All contracts or agreements for participation as an in-network health services facility  between an insurer offering health benefit plans in this State and a health services facility at  which there are out-of-network providers who may be part of the provision of services to an  insured while receiving care at the health services facility shall require that an in-network health  services facility shall give at least 72 hours' advanced written notification to an insured that has  scheduled an appointment at that health services facility of any out-of-network provider who will  be part of the provision of the insured's health care services. If there is not at least 72 hours between the scheduling of the appointment and the appointment, then the in-network health services facility shall give the written notice to the insured on the day the appointment is scheduled. In the case of emergency services, the health services facility shall give written notice to the insured as soon as reasonably possible. The written notice required by this subsection shall include all of the following: 

(1) All of the health care providers that will be rendering services to the insured that are not participating as in-network health care providers in the applicable insurer's network. 

(2) The estimated cost to the insured of the services being rendered by the out-of-network providers identified in subdivision (1) of this subsection.

 

When balance billing isn’t allowed, you also have these protections: 

 

  • You’re only responsible for paying your share of the cost (like the copayments, coinsurance, and deductible that you would pay if the provider or facility was 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 in-network deductible and out-of-pocket limit. 

 

If you think you’ve been wrongly billed, contact Dr. Crystal Redding, crystal@sentinelmwc.com. The federal phone number for information and complaints is: 1-800-985-3059]. 

 

Visit www.cms.gov/nosurprises/consumersfor more information about your rights under federal law.

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