Continuity of Care
In December 2020, Congress passed the No Surprises Act as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) which will take effect on January 1, 2022. The No Surprises Act is intended to provide greater consumer protections to patients by addressing surprise medical bills at the federal level.
The No Surprises Act requires health plans to implement changes that will impact both members and providers. The following changes will affect what is required of providers in Highmark’s network. This includes:
- Eliminating surprise medical bills
- Expanding continuity of care protections
- Adding provider directory requirements
- Providing members with “advanced” explanation of benefits (AEOB)
The following changes will take effect on January 1, 2022. They apply to members in Highmark’s commercial fully insured, self-funded (ASO) and Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans. They do not apply to the Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP), Medicare Advantage, or Medigap plans.
*Note: As regulators continue to work out final details, Highmark will update our providers as to how these changes will be implemented. Continue to check this page for updates.
Highmark will pay out-of-network providers directly when they render the following services to our members:
- Emergency services provided by out-of-network providers to members who are receiving care in a hospital or freestanding emergency department
- Non-emergency services performed by an out-of-network provider at an in-network facility (with certain exceptions, as noted below)1
- Out-of-network air ambulance services2
With regards to the above, out-of-network providers may bill patients for network cost sharing (deductible, copayment, coinsurance), but may not balance bill patients for amounts exceeding Highmark’s out-of-network allowance for these services.3
Out-of-network providers who are not satisfied with Highmark’s payment may attempt to negotiate a higher reimbursement from Highmark.4 Members may file a complaint or appeal if they have been balance billed when they should not have been consistent with the No Surprises Act.
Providers who are contracted with Highmark for some products, but not for the product in which the member is enrolled, are considered out-of-network providers for purposes of the No Surprises Act.
CONTINUITY OF CARE
There may be cases where a member is receiving care from a network provider that subsequently becomes an out-of-network provider relative to the member’s plan. In those instances, members undergoing continuous care for certain conditions may continue to receive services at the network level of benefits from that now out-of-network provider for a period of up to 90 days or until the treatment is concluded, whichever is sooner.5
If the patient chooses to continue with their current provider during the continuity of care period, the provider is required to accept the previous in-network payment and cost-sharing amounts and continue to meet all previously applicable terms and conditions.
The No Surprises Act defines continuing care patients as those who, with respect to the provider:
- Have an acute illness serious enough to require specialized medical treatment to avoid death or permanent harm
- Have a chronic illness that is life-threatening, degenerative, potentially disabling, or congenital, and requires specialized care
- Are receiving institutional or inpatient care
- Are scheduled to undergo nonelective surgery, including postoperative care
- Are pregnant and undergoing treatment for pregnancy
- Are/were determined to be terminally ill and are receiving treatment for such illness
To accurately inform our members of the “in-network” status of a provider or facility, Highmark must update its provider directory within 48 hours of receiving provider information changes.
Providers must verify certain provider data every 90 days including:
- Practitioner name
- Phone number
- Digital contact information
Providers who do not respond to Highmark’s outreach every 90 days for this information will be removed from Highmark’s provider directory until we are able to verify their provider information.
As part of the No Surprises Act, plans and insurers that are notified of a scheduled service will be required to provide members with an advanced EOB. An advanced EOB is a good faith estimate of the cost, cost sharing, and the member’s current unsatisfied deductible and out-of-pocket maximums for a proposed covered service from a provider before the service is rendered.
When additional direction is provided by federal regulatory agencies, Highmark will update providers with information regarding how members may request an advanced EOB.
Last updated on 10/29/2021