Banning surprise medical bills – and what to do if you get one
Updated: Jan 12, 2022
By Sen. Maggie Hassan, published in a number of New Hampshire media outlets.
Far too many Granite Staters and Americans have gone to a hospital for a medical emergency, then returned home saddled with an unexpected medical bill – sometimes to the tune of thousands of dollars – because they were treated by an out-of-network doctor.
Patients who thought they were following the rules and going to in-network hospitals instead found their family’s budget thrown into disarray – or found themselves deep in debt – because they were treated by an out-of-network doctor, often without their knowledge
As of Jan. 1, patients are no longer on the hook for these types of surprise bills. I’ve heard about this problem from countless constituents, such as one Granite Stater who sought treatment after he cut his finger making dinner. He later was charged $3,500 because while he went to an in-network hospital, the physician who treated him there was an independent contractor whose services were not covered by his insurance.
After hearing story after story like this, I worked with my Republican colleague, Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, to build a bipartisan coalition and introduce legislation to help end surprise medical bills. We brought Democrats and Republicans together to find compromise and pass a solution into law.
Now, people in New Hampshire and across the country will not receive these absurd and unexpected medical bills. Our law protects patients from having to pay out-of-network prices for most emergency services, post-emergency stabilization services, and non-emergency services provided by out-of-net
work providers at in-network facilities.
For these covered services, hospitals and doctors can now bill patients only the in-network rates. And going forward, if patients receive higher bills for these services, they should contact the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-985-3059 and/or the New Hampshire Insurance Department at 1‐800‐852‐3416 or 603-271‐2261, or by email at email@example.com. Granite Staters can get more information by visiting https://www.cms.gov/nosurprises/consumers.
These protections are a major win for patients. They are also a win for public health. Ending surprise medical bills will save taxpayers billions of dollars, and those savings are put to use to extend funding for public health, including for New Hampshire’s community health centers.
Ending surprise medical billing is an important, commonsense step toward lowering costs for Granite Staters. But there is a lot more work to do to strengthen our health care system and ensure that all Americans have access to high-quality, affordable care. I am committed to working with my Congressional colleagues and the people of New Hampshire to do just that.
About the author:
Sen. Maggie Hassan, Democrat, represents New Hampshire in the U.S. Senate. She worked across the aisle with Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana to bring members of both parties together to pass a bill to protect patients from unexpected costs. The bill took effect Jan. 1., 2022.