New Patient Billing Laws are in Effect in 2022
Each year millions of patients are saddled with unexpected medical debt, often as a result of emergency medical care. Protecting patients from unfair medical billing practices is a top priority for legislators across the country in 2022. This movement began in the 2000s as states took an interest in reigning in the practice of balance billing, more commonly known as surprise billing.
Patient and consumer advocates have been trying to enact nationwide protections against surprise medical bills for years. It’s estimated that 1 in 5 emergency visits and 1 in 6 inpatient visits will result in a surprise bill. The economic insecurity posed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic added a sense of urgency to passing these new regulations.
Following years of complaints and investigation, Congress took action in late 2020 by passing the No Surprises Act. The bill was signed into law by President Trump on December 27, 2020 and was set to go into effect at the beginning of 2022. The new law prohibits the sending of surprise medical bills to patients after receiving care from an out-of-network provider during emergency care.
Many state legislatures have already enacted patient protection laws or are in the process of implementing them. Seventeen states currently have comprehensive surprise billing laws. Fifteen states have some protections against surprise billing including New Hampshire. Massachusetts is leading the charge in 2022 with a new bill outlawing balance billing having gone into effect on Jan 1, 2022.
The No Surprises Act and the Massachusetts Balance Billing law both extend billing protections to patients who receive out-of-network care. While this is a win for patients and their advocates, many providers and practice managers have expressed confusion, and sometimes concern, over how these new laws will impact their operations. In this series, we will provide an in-depth look at both laws and how they will impact providers.