What is the NSA?

When it comes to surprise medical bills, it’s the No Surprises Act, originally passed during the Donald Trump Administration, will go into effect on January 1, 2022.

Montana State Auditor and Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Troy Downing provided details on the bill.

“It protects consumers from being ‘surprise billed’ or ‘balanced billed’ on having medical treatment,” said Commissioner Downing. “The simple answer to that question is let's say you go to the hospital and God forbid you have emergency surgery for something, and your insurance company covers that because it's emergency service and the hospital is in network with your insurance company. And then two months later, you get a bill from an anesthesiologist that wasn't in network. And so you get this what's called balanced billed.”

Downing said the No Surprises Act can remedy that situation.

“So what this does is it makes that practice illegal,” he said. “It says that if you get services in many circumstances and this often happens under emergency services from a provider that's outside of your insurance network, then they cannot charge more than the same service would be charged if it was in network.”

Downing said air ambulance service can cost thousands of dollars and the No Surprises Act can help there, as well.

“Another place where this might come into effect how it affects helicopters,” he said. “So basically if you're using an aerial ambulance service, this also affects the bill from the air ambulance service. Strangely enough, it doesn't affect ground ambulance service, but it does cover air ambulance and so that falls under the guise of this bill.”

Downing said he and his staff are starting a public relations campaign to bring the good news about the No Surprises Act to all Montanans.

“This goes into effect on January 1st, and so we're starting a little bit of a road show now to make sure that we educate stakeholders, providers, hospitals, and doctors on what they can and can't do,” he said. “We're also going to reach out to consumers about what to expect; what this act constitutes what it does not and what to do if you're a victim.”

The Office of the Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance is charged with ensuring commercially insured health plans and insurance companies comply with this law. For up-to-date information and questions about the No Surprises Act, go to CSIMT.gov.

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