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‘An Arm and a Leg’: Know Your ‘No Surprises’ Rights

‘An Arm and a Leg’: Know Your ‘No Surprises’ Rights

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On Jan. 1, Americans woke up with some new protections from giant medical bills. 

Meet the No Surprises Act. It’s a new law that protects patients from one of the worst experiences the U.S. health care system has to offer — surprise out-of-network hospital bills. That’s when a person gets hit with a bill from an out-of-network provider at an in-network hospital. Under the new law, if a person visits an in-network hospital and is seen by an out-of-network provider, that provider and the insurer have to work it out for themselves. Patients are only on the hook for what they would’ve paid an in-network provider. That’s a big deal.

But there are some caveats (because, of course). For instance: These protections apply only to emergency care, whether in a hospital or at a free-standing ER. Then there’s the deceptively named Surprise Billing Protection form that patients might be asked to sign, waiving these newly won rights. And there’s more. 

This episode of “An Arm and a Leg” breaks down what you need to know about your rights under this new law, what traps to look out for, and who to call if something smells fishy.

Actually, here: The federal hotline for reporting No Surprises Act violations is at 1-800-985-3059. 

Here’s a transcript of the episode

“An Arm and a Leg” is a co-production of KHN and Public Road Productions.

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[Editor’s note: This article was revised at 3:15 p.m. ET on Feb. 15, 2022, to clarify the scope of care covered under the No Surprises Act.]