Millions of Americans get surprise bills from doctors who don’t participate with their health plan but who practice in hospitals that do.
With no contract in place to dictate how much doctors get paid for services, they can bill patients for charges beyond what insurance covers.
The doctors are charging for the balance of the bill not covered by insurance. It’s a practice called “balance billing.”
Federal law doesn’t protect patients from surprise bills. The Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover out-of-network emergency services at in-network rates, but it doesn’t stop doctors from balance billing.
Experts offer suggestions to help minimize the likelihood of a surprise medical bill and what to do if you get one in this Los Angeles Times Health Care Watch column.