Also referred to as Balance Billing or Surprise Billing. The “No Surprises Act” is federal legislation that addresses billing when patients get emergency care or get treated by an out-of-network provider at an in-network hospital or ambulatory surgical center.
Avoid surprises in your medical bills:
Federal law requires all providers to provide a good faith estimate to uninsured individuals or individuals who choose not to have their insurance billed for all medical items and services.
New York State law: You are protected from surprise billing under New York State law
Your Rights and Protections Against Surprise Medical Bill
What is "balance billing" (sometimes called "surprise billing")?When you see a doctor or other health care provider, you may owe certain out-of-pocket costs, such as a copayment, coinsurance, and a deductible. In addition, you may have additional charges or have to pay the entire bill if you see a provider or visit a healthcare facility that is not in your health plan's network.
"Out-of-network" describes providers and facilities that have not signed a contract with your health plan. Out-of-network providers may bill you for the difference between your plan's agreement and the total amount charged for a service. This is called "balance billing." This amount is likely more than in-network costs for the same service and might not count toward your annual out-of pocket limit.
"Surprise billing" is an unexpected balance bill. This can happen when you cannot control who is involved in your care—including when you have an emergency or schedule a visit at an in-network facility but are unexpectedly treated by an out-of-network provider.
You are protected from balance billing for:
1. Emergency servicesIf you have an emergency medical condition and get emergency services from an out-of-network provider or facility, the most the provider or facility may bill you is your plan's in-network cost-sharing amount (such as copayments and coinsurance). You cannot be balance billed for these emergency services. This includes services you may get after you are in stable condition unless you give written consent and give up your protections not to be balanced billed for these post-stabilization services.
You are also protected from balance billing under New York law, including for emergency services in hospitals, including inpatient care following emergency room treatment.
2. Certain services at an in-network hospital or ambulatory surgical centerCertain providers may be out of network when you get services from an in-network hospital or ambulatory surgical center. In these cases, the most those providers may bill you is your plan's in-network cost-sharing amount. This applies to emergency medicine, anesthesia, pathology, radiology, laboratory, neonatology, assistant surgeon, hospitalist, or intensivist services. These providers cannot balance bill you and may not ask you to give up your protections not to be balance billed.
If you get other services at these in-network facilities, out-of-network providers cannot balance bill you unless you give written consent and give up your protections.
You are never required to give up your protection from balance billing. You also are not required to get care out-of-network. You can choose a provider or facility in your plan's network.You are also protected from balance billing under New York law when an out-of-network doctor treats you at a participating hospital or ambulatory surgical center in your health plan's network. Additionally, if you have health insurance coverage provided by an insurer or health maintenance organization (HMO), you are protected from balance billing when a participating doctor refers you to a non-participating provider.
When balance billing isn't allowed, you also have the following protections:
- First, you are only responsible for paying your share of the cost (like the copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles that you would pay if the provider or facility were in-network). Your health plan will pay out-of-network providers and facilities directly.
- Your health plan generally must:
- Cover emergency services without requiring you to get approval for services in advance (prior authorization).
- Cover emergency services by out-of-network providers.
- Base what you owe the provider or facility (cost-sharing) on what it would pay an in-network provider or facility and show that amount in your explanation of benefits.
- Count any amount you pay for emergency services or out-of-network services toward your deductible and out-of-pocket limit.
If you believe you've been wrongly billedDepartment of Health and Human Services
Your rights under federal law
Department of Health and Human Services
New York's Department of Financial Services
Your rights under New York's law
Department of Financial Services website
Your Right to Receive a Good Faith Estimate
You have the right to receive a “Good Faith Estimate” explaining how much your medical care will cost.
Under the law, healthcare providers need to give patients who do not have insurance or are not using insurance an estimate of the bill for medical items and services.
- You have the right to receive a Good Faith Estimate for the total expected cost of any non-emergency items or services. This includes related costs like medical tests, prescription drugs, equipment, and hospital fees.
- Make sure your healthcare provider gives you a Good Faith Estimate in writing at least one business day before your medical service or item. You can also ask your health care provider, and any other provider you choose, for a Good Faith Estimate before you schedule an item or service.
- If you receive a bill that is at least $400 more than your Good Faith Estimate, you can dispute the bill.
- Make sure to save a copy or picture of your Good Faith Estimate.
OR more information about your right to a Good Faith Estimate:
or call our EWBC Billing Department at 585-442-1830
How to Receive a Good Faith Estimate from EWBC
Please have the description or CPC code of the procedure you would like the estimate for
Contact EWBC Billing Department
Call (585) 442-1830
Monday – Friday 7:30 am to 4:30 pm