One-fifth of patients who have visited healthcare facilities this year have received unexpected medical bills, despite the enactment of the No Surprises Act, and 22% of those who have received a bill have received one in excess of $1,000, according to the results of a nationwide survey.
Surprise medical bills have also led one-in-four adults to skip or delay being treated or receiving medical care, according to the survey. Fifteen percent completely skipped receiving care, while 19% hesitated, but ended up seeking care.
Interestingly enough, early reports had indicated that the Act prevented more than 2 million medical bills during its first two months in effect.
The No Surprises Act went into effect on January 1 and prohibits healthcare providers from billing individuals who have healthcare insurance and were treated at an out-of-network facility from being charged anything more than what their in-network costs would have been. The objective of the bill is to keep individuals, many of whom are in emergency situations, from being treated at an out-of-network facility and being billed as if they did not have medical insurance.
The most common source of an unexpected medical bill was for in-network lab work that was sent to an out-of-network facility for assessment, which is covered under the No Surprises Act. The next most common source of an unexpected medical bill was for treatment conducted by an out-of-network doctor at an in-network facility.
Generally speaking, individuals feel more comfortable estimating the cost of a visit to their primary care physician than a trip to the emergency room. Seventy-one percent of respondents said they were confident in being knowing the treatment costs up front, compared with 45% for emergency room visits.