SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A pandemic relief bill signed late last year also includes a ban on surprise medical billing.
The new federal law called the No Surprises Act is aimed to help patients – by taking them out of the middle of a dispute and forcing the insurance companies and providers to work out cost of medical care.
Generally, it says if a hospital or provider takes your health insurance, then it must cover all services provided.
And if there is a dispute over in-network or out-of-network charges, the new law establishes a framework for the health insurance companies and the providers to work it out.
The Act applies to emergency and non-emergency services.
WTOC Investigates has reported on some of the nightmarish medical billing stories.
The bills for some have amounted to tens of thousands of dollars. A burdensome cost that’s financially crippling for families.
For others, it’s affected their credit score and the ability to purchase a home.
Congressman Rep. Earl “Buddy” Carter (District 1-Georgia) is a member of the Doctors Caucus and helped push for the new law.
“This is good news particularly for patients because no longer will they be getting crippling surprise bills that they had no idea once they went into the hospital or the emergency room that they would be getting, Rep. Carter said. This is very good news, and this is the result of bipartisan work of the United States Congress,” Rep. Carter said.
Georgia is one of 26 states with laws already in place to prevent surprise billing. South Carolina is not one of them.
The state laws will take precedent over the federal law, Rep. Carter said.
The federal law won’t take effect until next year - January of 2022, he added.
Once it takes effect, enforcement will happen at the state level by the Secretary of States offices.
And providers or health insurance companies found in violation could face up to a $10,000 fine.
In the meantime, if you get a surprise medical bill, Rep. Carter says you should challenge it before making any payments.
He said his office can help with that.
Click here to read through No Surprises Act – it starts on page 4,096.