Deion fell off a ladder, hitting his head and breaking his arm. He was taken to the nearest emergency room. He needed covered imaging and radiology services as well as surgery. Now bills are starting to come in. What is he responsible for paying? How can he get help if he's receiving bills that don't match the explanation of benefits (EOB) from his health insurance plan?
For emergency care he received, Deion is only responsible for paying his in-network deductibles, copays, and coinsurance, even if health care providers who were not in his plan network treated him or he was taken to a facility that was out-of-network. If the bills don't match his explanation of benefits (EOB), Deion can call his health insurer first. If he isn't satisfied with the insurer's response, he can contact the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance at 1-800-236-8517 (within Wisconsin) or 1-608-266-0103 (outside of Wisconsin).
If Deion is admitted to the hospital after he receives care in the emergency room, he should know that any out-of-network health care providers at the facility may ask him to consent to continuing care and to agree to pay higher amounts. They can only ask for his consent to receive out-of-network care once he is stabilized, able to understand the information about his care and out-of-pocket costs, and it is safe to travel to an in-network facility using non- emergency transportation. If those conditions are met, Deion can decide if he wants to continue with the out-of-network provider, or travel to a provider who participates in his health plan's network. If he stays with the out-of-network provider and consents to out-of-network billing, he'll be responsible for any out-of-network deductibles, copays, or coinsurance. He'll also be responsible for the amount the provider charges that is more than what the insurance company pays (the balance bill).
Bill had chest pains and went to his local hospital's emergency room. The doctors there said he had to be transported to a hospital in a major city for full treatment and he had to go by air ambulance to make it in time. Bill was flown to the larger hospital and is now doing well. Bill's wife, Nancy, has heard scary stories about air ambulance costs and is starting to worry. Are there any protections for someone who is transported by air ambulance in an emergency?
If the air ambulance company has an in-network contract with Bill's health insurance plan, then Bill will only have to pay the in-network deductibles, coinsurance, or copays. The air ambulance company will accept their contracted amount as payment in full.
Starting in 2022, the new federal No Surprises Act protects patients even if the air ambulance company doesn't have an in-network contract with their health insurance plan. Bill will only have to pay the deductibles, copays, or coinsurance that he would have to pay if the air ambulance were in-network. Federal law will help the air ambulance and the health insurance companies determine how to pay the rest of the bill.
Elena is scheduled for a biopsy, a service that her health plan covers. Her hospital and surgeon are in-network with her health plan, but the hospital uses anesthesiologists and pathologists that are not in-network. Does this mean everything will be covered as in-network, or could Elena have some unexpected charges?
Surgery for a biopsy can involve health care providers that you don't get to choose, such as an anesthesiologist and a pathologist. Starting in 2022, when Elena chooses an in-network facility and surgeon for her procedure, all of her out-of-pocket costs will be at the in-network rate. That includes the costs for any out-of-network providers she didn't choose who participate in her care.
Hannah changes jobs and her family is covered under a new employer health plan. Hannah and her husband's doctors are in-network with the new company, but their child's pediatrician is not. How can they find an in-network pediatrician? Can they rely on the online provider directory for accurate information?
Hannah can review her new health plan's online provider directory or call the insurance company to get information. An insurance company may have different networks for different health plans. It's important to look at the directory for your specific health plan.
Most people rely on their health plan to give them accurate information about in-network health care providers.
Starting in 2022, federal law requires health care providers to update their information with insurance companies when there is a change. In turn, insurance companies must verify that the information in their provider directories is complete.
If Hannah calls the insurance company to ask for a list of in-network pediatricians, the insurance company has one business day to give her a list. If Hannah relies on inaccurate information from the insurance company that a provider is in-network, then Hannah will be responsible only for the in-network deductibles, copays, or coinsurance.