With the beginning of the new year 2022, new regulations came into effect in the United States that are designed to avoid “surprise billing.” Patients who end up in hospitals in emergency circumstances, such as after an auto collision, have often complained that they were billed enormous amounts later, and that some of these were for services that were not required by the original emergency and that they did not specifically authorize, i.e. surprise billing.
The new rule, known for short as the IFR (interim final rule), was a campaign motif of Joseph Biden in 2020 and is the joint work of the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Health and Human Services.
The Departments were especially concerned with the billing of patients for certain medical specialties that are not “actively shoppable by consumers,” including anesthesiology and lab work.
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Though a boon for many patients, the new rule will have costs. As a front-line consequence it will make life more difficult for hospital administrators, and the eventual ramifications of those difficulties are not yet clear.