Your Rights and Protections Against Surprise Medical Bills

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/or a deductible. You may have other costs or have to
pay the entire bill if you see a provider or visit a health care facility that isn’t in your health plan’s network.
“Out-of-network” describes providers and facilities that haven’t signed a contract with your
health plan. Out-of-network providers may be permitted to bill you for the difference between
what your plan agreed to pay and the full 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 can’t control who is
involved in your care—like when you have an emergency or when you 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:
Emergency services
If 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 can’t be balance
billed for these emergency services. This includes services you may get after you’re in stable
condition, unless you give written consent and give up your protections not to be balanced billed for these post-stabilization services.
Certain services at an in-network hospital or ambulatory surgical center
When you get services from an in-network hospital or ambulatory surgical center, certain
providers there may be out-of-network. 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 can’t 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 can’t balance bill you, unless you give written consent and give up your protections.
You’re never required to give up your protections from balance billing. You also aren’t
required to get care out-of-network. You can choose a provider or facility in your plan’s network.
Maryland-specific balance billing protections
If you are in a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) governed by Maryland law, you may
not be balance billed for services covered by your plan, including ground ambulance services.
When you get emergency care or get treated by an out-of-network provider at an in-network
hospital or ambulatory surgical center, you are protected from surprise billing or balance billing.