Biden-Harris Administration’s Actions to Prevent Surprise Billing
On July 1, 2021, the Biden-Harris Administration, through the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor, and the Treasury, as well as the Office of Personnel Management, issued “Requirements Related to Surprise Billing; Part I,” an interim final rule with comment period that will restrict surprise billing for patients in job-based and individual health plans and who get emergency care, non-emergency care from out-of-network providers at in-network facilities, and air ambulance services from out-of-network providers.
This first rule implements several important requirements for group health plans, group and individual health insurance issuers, carriers under the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program, health care providers and facilities, and providers of air ambulance services.
What is a surprise medical bill?
When a person with a group health plan or health insurance coverage gets care from an out-of-network provider, their health plan or issuer usually does not cover the entire out-of-network cost, leaving them with higher costs than if they had been seen by an in-network provider. In many cases, the out-of-network provider can bill the person for the difference between the billed charge and the amount paid by their plan or insurance, unless prohibited by state law. This is known as “balance billing.” An unexpected balance bill is called a surprise bill.
This rule protects patients from surprise bills under certain circumstances.
Who will benefit from this rule?
These surprise billing protections apply to you if you get your coverage through your employer (including a federal, state or local government) or through the federal Marketplaces, state-based Marketplaces or directly through an individual market health insurance issuer.
The rule does not apply to people with coverage through programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Indian Health Services, Veterans Affairs Health Care or TRICARE. These programs already prohibit balance billing.