One of the many constants of American medical care in the past few years has been the unexpected: Surprise medical bills. Around one in every six times someone checks into the hospital, or is taken to an emergency room, the treatment is followed by a surprise medical bill, a 2019 study found. But as of January 1, 2022, federal law now bans many types of surprise medical bills.
Patients with insurance will no longer receive so-called "surprise bills" following emergency medical care from an out-of-network doctor or facility. Patients will still be responsible for any deductibles and copays they normally would have to pay under their plan, but they may only be billed at their plan's in-network rate.
Patients will also be protected if an out-of-network clinician is involved in a planned procedure at an in-network hospital, like if a surgeon is called in to assist during an operation, or a patient's anesthesiologist is out-of-network.