The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) effective January 1, 2022 has ramped up the new No Surprise Act (NSA) or often called the “Good Faith Law.” This law shall apply to group health plans, health insurers, health care providers and health care facilities (Providers). The NSA requires health care providers to be proactive and reactive as it relates to providing patients who are self-pay or shall receive out-of-network bills from their health insurance a pre-bill outlining the services they are intending to receive and could potentially receive.
Self-Pay patients apply to a wide range of medical providers; therefore, the importance of this law is crucial for providers accepting cash patients. The provider will be required to transmit to patients itemized disclosures of the services offered at the facility, these disclosures are called “Good Faith Estimates.” A Good Faith Estimate will include various detailed terms that a patient must have upon request, or a provider will be required to inform a patient that said estimate is available to them when inquiring about services. The disclosure will be required at the front desk and on the providers website.
If a provider treats patients who have insurance coverage and is not in network with said insurance plan, the provider is subject to and will have to abide by the NSA.
The driving complaint by patients that lead to the institution of the NSA was surprise medical bills, which are essentially caused by balance billing. Balance billing occurs when a provider bills an amount or difference not covered by an insurance plan. Under the NSA, providers will have to implement the proper disclosure requirement of this practice, which must be presented to patients prior to the treatment. Providers will be required to obtain notice and consent forms signed by patients authorizing any additional billing not covered by the out-of-network coverage prior to providing said treatment.
Does Not Apply To
The NSA will not apply to vision or dental insurance plans which are solitary plans. However, if the vision and dental is an added benefit to a health plan it will be covered. The NSA will not apply to balance billing practices for those in the ground ambulance business. Providers who service Medicare, Medicaid, Indian Health Services, Veterans Affairs Health Care, or TRICARE shall not apply to NSA.
Penalties for Non-Compliance
A patient shall be allowed to dispute any bill charge in excess of $400 personally or through an independent third party, a “dispute resolution entity,” which shall determine the amount owed by the patient. An email shall be sent to the provider stating that a dispute has arisen, and the provider will be required to upload certain documentation surrounding the dispute. During a dispute resolution period, providers will not be allowed to move the bill into collection or threaten collection, if collection is already ongoing it shall be paused, late fees on the unpaid bill shall not be collectable, and any threats of retaliation against the disputing patient shall not be permitted. However, providers shall have the option to settle the claim with a patient directly abiding by the above, upon executing a settlement form. Failure to adhere to the NSA shall result in penalties up to $10,000 per violation.