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ICYMI – Business NH Magazine: Laws Prohibiting Surprise Medical Bills are Working

WASHINGTON – In case you missed it, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan’s bipartisan legislation, which was passed into law at the end of 2020, is preventing more than one million surprise medical bills each month.

Senator Hassan has led bipartisan efforts to stop surprise medical billing. Senator Hassan’s bipartisan No Surprises Act was passed into law at the end of 2020 and went into effect at the beginning of 2021. In November 2022, a report showed that the bipartisan legislation prevented nine million surprise medical bills that year. Last year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) launched a web page with clear, easy-to-read information about the new consumer protections provided by the bipartisan legislation.

Read more from Business NH Magazine here or below:

Business NH Magazine: Laws Prohibiting Surprise Medical Bills are Working

By Kelly Burch

Each week, the NH Insurance Department addresses disputes from Granite Staters who received a surprise medical bill. Oftentimes, the department can resolve these bills by working with the person’s insurance provider and pointing to federal and state legislation that prohibit surprise medical billing.

“It’s been a huge, huge benefit to consumers,” says D.J. Bettencourt, commissioner of the insurance department.

The surprise bills most often occur when someone goes to an in-network hospital but is treated by an out-of-network provider. The bills reflect the balance left between the amount that the out-of-network provider bills and the amount that insurance agrees to pay. For this reason, surprise billing is often called balance billing.

No matter what name it goes by, the results can be detrimental. Medical debt plays a role in more than 58% of bankruptcies in America, according to a 2019 study in the American Journal of Public Health. Nearly one in five households have medical debt according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is why most medical debt, including surprise bills due to out-of-network providers, can no longer be reported to credit scoring agencies. Legislation that prohibits surprise billing—passed by the state in 2018 and the federal government in 2020—aims to address that. Today, the legislation prevents more than one million surprise bills each month, according to Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), who sponsored the federal legislation.

Despite the resounding success of the legislation, there is “more work to do,” Hassan says. Efforts to raise awareness about consumer protections, resolve disputes in a timely manner, and cover ambulance rides are ongoing, experts say.

[…]In 2020, the federal government passed the No Surprises Act, which was sponsored by Hassan and Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. The federal legislation took effect in 2022 and strengthened existing consumer protections in NH.

“Those two protections work incredibly well in tandem,” Bettencourt says. […]