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Ending Surprise Medical Bills

Surprise medical bills affect 1 in 5 people who go to an emergency room or get surgery. A new law will protect consumers from these expensive bills.

Here’s an unfair situation: You slip and need to go to the emergency room. You know it’s in your best financial interest to pick a hospital that’s in your insurance network, so you’re careful to select an in-network hospital. Everything goes without a hitch, then, weeks later, you get hit with a surprise medical bill for hundreds more than you expected. The hospital may have decided to use an out-of-network emergency room doctor or X-ray technician — regardless, you didn’t choose them, but you’re still stuck paying out-of-network costs.

You wouldn’t be alone: The problem of surprise medical billing is so rampant that 1 in 5 Americans who visit an emergency room or have surgery receive them. Now, we have an opportunity to ensure that a new federal law gets rid of most of them for good.

Consumers get stuck with expensive bills they can't avoid

You’ve probably read the headlines: the bill for $117,000 for a “scrub-in” assistant surgeon that a patient never met, or the $21,000 bill for the anesthesiologist who gave a woman an epidural during labor, or the $17,000 bill for the tests an inpatient received. These may be different bills, but the story is the same.

Here’s how it typically happens: You need hospital care and have insurance to cover the procedure. You check your provider directory to make sure the hospital and the doctor are in-network and even call your insurer to know what to expect for your copay and deductibles. Everything at the hospital goes as expected and you head home. Then, while you’re recovering, the bill arrives — and it is hundreds, maybe even thousands, of dollars more than you expected. A few calls later, it turns out that a specialist, or the lab used by the hospital, or the anesthesiologist was not in your insurer’s network. And now you're stuck with a “surprise medical bill.”

With the average surprise emergency room bill costing the consumer about $600 — and oftentimes even more — surprise medical bills run up costs far greater than what many Americans have in their savings accounts.

And when out-of-network providers demand outrageous fees from our insurers, we’re also likely to pay for part of that, too, in higher premiums. One study found anesthesiologists charging private insurers 3.5 times as much as Medicare.

Use the dropdown menu below for surprise billing protection information or resources in your state.

Alabama currently has no protections against surprise medical bills for consumers. Please see PIRG's tips to avoid surprise medical bills.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 334-241-4141

Alaksa currently has no protections against surprise medical bills for consumers. Please see PIRG's tips to avoid surprise medical bills.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 907-269-7900

Please see PIRG's tips for dealing with surprise medical bills in Arizona.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: (602) 364-2499

Arkansas currently has no protections against surprise medical bills for consumers. Please see PIRG's tips to avoid surprise medical bills.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: (501) 371-2600

Please see PIRG's tips for dealing with surprise medical bills in California.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 1-800-927-4357

Please see PIRG's tips for dealing with surprise medical bills in Colorado.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 303-894-7490

If you believe you have received an illegal surprise bill, contact the Connecticut Department of Insurance Consumer Helpline.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: (860) 297-3900

If you believe you have received an illegal surprise bill, contact the Delaware Department of Insurance Consumer Helpline.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 1-800-282-8611

If you believe you have received an illegal surprise bill, contact the Florida Consumer Helpline.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 1-877-693-5236

Please see PIRG's tips for dealing with surprise medical bills in Georgia.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: (404) 656-2070

Hawaii currently has no protections against surprise medical bills for consumers. Please see PIRG's tips to avoid surprise medical bills.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: (808) 586-2790

Idaho currently has no protections against surprise medical bills for consumers. Please see PIRG's tips to avoid surprise medical bills.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: (208) 334-4319

Please see PIRG's tips for dealing with surprise medical bills in Illinois.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 866-445-5364

If you believe you have received an illegal surprise bill, contact the Indiana Department of Insurance.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 317-232-2395

If you believe you have received an illegal surprise bill, contact the Iowa Insurance Division.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 515-654-6600

Kansas currently has no protections against surprise medical bills for consumers. Please see PIRG's tips to avoid surprise medical bills.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 800-432-2484

Kentucky currently has no protections against surprise medical bills for consumers. Please see PIRG's tips to avoid surprise medical bills.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 502-564-6034

Louisiana currently has no protections against surprise medical bills for consumers. Please see PIRG's tips to avoid surprise medical bills.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 1-800-259-5300

If you believe you have received an illegal surprise medical bill, contact the Maine Bureau of Insurance.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 207-624-8475

If you believe you have received an illegal surprise bill, contact the Maryland Insurance Administration.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 410-528-1840

Please see PIRG's tips for dealing with surprise medical bills in Massachusetts.

If you believe you have received an illegal surprise medical bill, contact the Massachusetts Division of Insurance.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: (617) 521-7794

If you believe you have received an illegal surprise medical bill, contact the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 877-999-6442

If you believe you have received an illegal surprise medical bill, contact the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 651-539-1600

If you believe you have received an illegal surprise medical bill, contact the Mississippi Insurance Deaprtment.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 800-562-2957

If you believe you have received an illegal surprise medical bill, contact the Missouri Department of Insurance.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 800-726-7390

Montana currently has no protections against surprise medical bills for consumers. Please see PIRG's tips to avoid surprise medical bills.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: (800) 332-6148

If you believe you have received an illegal surprise medical bill, contact the Nebraska Department of Insurance.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 1-877-564-7323

If you believe you have received an illegal surprise medical bill, contact the Nevada Division of Insurance.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: (888) 872-3234

If you believe you have received an illegal surprise medical bill, contact the New Hampshire Insurance Department.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: (603) 271-2261

If you believe you have received an illegal surprise medical bill, contact the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 609-292-7272

If you believe you have received an illegal surprise medical bill, contact the New Mexico Office of the Superintendent of Insurance.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 505-827-4549

If you believe you have received an illegal surprise medical bill, contact the New York State Department of Financial Services.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: (800) 342-3736

If you believe you have received an illegal surprise medical bill, contact the North Carolina Department of Insurance Consumer Services Division.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 855-408-1212

North Dakota currently has no protections against surprise medical bills for consumers. Please see PIRG's tips to avoid surprise medical bills.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: (701) 328-2440

Please see PIRG's tips for dealing with surprise medical bills in Ohio.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 1-800-686-1526

Oklahoma currently has no protections against surprise medical bills for consumers. Please see PIRG's tips to avoid surprise medical bills.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 1 (800) 522-0071

Please see PIRG's tips for dealing with surprise medical bills in Oregon.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 888-877-4894

Please see PIRG's tips for dealing with surprise medical bills in Pennsylvania.

If you believe you have received an illegal surprise medical bill, contact the Pennsylvania Insurance Department.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 1-877-881-6388

If you believe you have received an illegal surprise medical bill, contact the Rhode Island Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 1-855-747-3224

South Carolina currently has no protections against surprise medical bills for consumers. Please see PIRG's tips to avoid surprise medical bills.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 803-737-6180

South Dakota currently has no protections against surprise medical bills for consumers. Please see PIRG's tips to avoid surprise medical bills.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 605.773.3563

Tennessee currently has no protections against surprise medical bills for consumers. Please see PIRG's tips to avoid surprise medical bills.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 615-741-2218

Please see PIRG's tips for dealing with surprise medical bills in Texas.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 1-800-252-3439

Utah currently has no protections against surprise medical bills for consumers. Please see PIRG's tips to avoid surprise medical bills.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 1-800-439-3805

If you believe you have received an illegal surprise medical bill, contact the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 800-964-1784

If you believe you have received an illegal surprise medical bill, contact the Virginia State Corporation Commission.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 804-371-9691

Wisconsin currently has no protections against surprise medical bills for consumers. Please see PIRG's tips to avoid surprise medical bills.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: (608) 266-3585

If you believe you have received an illegal surprise medical bill, contact the West Virginia Offices of the Insurance Commissioner Consumer Service Section.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 1-888-879-9842

Wyoming currently has no protections against surprise medical bills for consumers. Please see PIRG's tips to avoid surprise medical bills.

Or call the State Consumer Helpline: 307-777-7401

Some states offer protections, but we fought for a federal law to protect everyone

In December 2020, Congress passed a PIRG-backed bill to protect consumers from surprise medical bills. Beginning in January 2022, no matter what state you live in, you will be protected from getting stuck with an out-of-network bill you didn’t expect and likely couldn’t afford.

But the law won’t protect people if it isn’t implemented correctly, and regulators don’t always do their jobs. That’s why we’re organizing as many public comments as we can during the rule-writing process — so that the new regulations actually protect consumers the way they should.