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Requirements Related to Surprise Billing; Part I Interim Final Rule with Comment Period

On July 1, 2021, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Labor, and the Department of the Treasury (collectively, the Departments), along with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) released an interim final rule with comment period (IFC), entitled “Requirements Related to Surprise Billing; Part I.” This rule related to Title I (the No Surprises Act) of Division BB of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 establishes new protections from surprise billing and excessive cost-sharing for consumers receiving health care items and services. 

Background - Surprise Billing & Need for Greater Protection:
 

Most group health plans and health insurance issuers that offer group or individual health insurance coverage have a network of providers and health care facilities (in-network providers) that agree to accept a specific payment amount for their services. Providers and facilities that are not part of a plan’s or issuer’s network (out-of-network providers) usually charge higher amounts than the contracted rates the plans and issuers pay to in-network providers.

When a person with health insurance coverage gets care from an out-of-network provider, their health plan or issuer usually does not cover the entire out-of-network cost, leaving the person with higher costs than if they had been seen by an in-network provider. In many cases, the out-of-network provider may bill the individual for the difference between the billed charge and the amount paid by their plan or insurance, unless prohibited by state law. This is known as “balance billing.”  Click here to learn more.

Virginia's Balance Billing Protection 

Virginia’s new balance billing law and rules, effective January 1, 2021, protects consumers from getting billed by an out-of-network health care provider for emergency services at a hospital or for certain non-emergency services during a scheduled procedure at an in-network hospital or other health care facility. The law covers emergency services, laboratory services, and any professional non-emergency services, including:

  • Surgery
  • Anesthesia
  • Pathology
  • Radiology
  • Hospitalist services

If a consumer is treated by an out-of-network provider or facility for services covered by the new law, the provider or facility will submit the claim to the consumer’s insurer. They will be paid a “commercially reasonable amount” which is based on payments for the same or similar services in a similar geographic area. The insurer and facility or provider must first try to agree on this amount. 

Does the law apply to my health plan?

The balance billing law applies to:
  • all Virginia-regulated managed care plans
  • plans bought through HealthCare.gov
  • state employee health benefit plans 
Click here to learn more about Virginia's balance billing law.