Federal legislation to protect everyone from surprise emergency room bills

Published: Dec. 24, 2021 at 6:02 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - A federal law will soon protect everyone against surprise emergency room bills.

The No Surprise Act states if you’re taken to the hospital in an emergency, you can’t be billed out-of-network costs, since you don’t choose where you go in emergencies.

Virginia has a form of the No Surprise Act, but it doesn’t include everyone.

Doug Gray, Executive Director of the Virginia Association of Health Plans, said the protections will be extended to everyone.

“Most people get their coverage from a self-insured employer, and self-insured employers aren’t covered under state law,” Gray said. “For the first time, everyone has protection from balance billing in an emergency.”

Gray said the bill is meant to protect people in emergencies.

“In an emergency, you don’t choose where you go. They just take you to the nearest place, so you don’t really have an opportunity to choose,” Gray said.

Gray said providers shouldn’t be able to take advantage of people just because they’re out of network.

“An anesthesiologist, for example, when you had an emergency, may not be in-network. They may choose not to contract with the health plan. Even though the hospital and the ER doctors do, and then they charge you whatever they wanted, in addition to what the health plan would pay,” Gray said.

He said you should call you insurance company if you’re billed out-of-network costs in an emergency.

The federal legislation goes into effect in 2022.

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