BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — A new law penned by a Louisiana senator aims to protect patients from surprising medical costs from out-of-network doctors. The No Surprise Act looks to prevent services costing an arm and a leg for things insurance policies may normally not cover without the policyholder being aware of it.
Senator Bill Cassidy teamed up with Senator Maggie Hassan to create the legislation. They had heard from constituents who would have separate bills for out-of-network services they were unaware they received at the time of their care.
“I’ve experienced it. You would think a doctor, I’m a doctor, would have been aware of the bill. I got stuck with a big bill I did not anticipate,” Sen. Cassidy said.
In an emergency, potentially a machine or doctor that was not in-network cared for a patient while they stayed at an in-network hospital. Months later a bill in thousands of dollars shows up. This law pushes insurance companies to charge in-network costs for these services.
“This takes the patient out of the middle. The doctors, hospitals, insurance companies can all fight with each other but the patient is not in the middle,” Sen. Cassidy said. “Now there is an arbitration process they can go to and they can decide upon what is the correct amount.”
The legislation also makes providers be upfront about any potential out-of-network services for elective or post-emergency procedures.
“So if the anesthesiologist is not in-network they have to tell you how much they’re going to charge and you can look at it and say, ‘Wait a minute I would rather have a doctor who is in-network,'” Sen. Cassidy said.
The law officially went into effect on Jan. 1. If patients receive a higher bill for these covered services, they should contact the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-985-3059 or the Louisiana Department of Insurance at 1-800-259-5300. For more information, visit https://www.cms.gov/nosurprises/consumers.