Non-Emergency Surprise Bills

You will not be responsible for the costs of “surprise bills” for out-of-network services, other than any in-network cost-sharing (in-network copay, coinsurance and/or deductible) that applies under your plan.

What is a “surprise bill”? What are some examples?

Not all out-of-network services are surprise bills. A surprise bill is a bill for covered non-emergency health care services rendered on or after April 1, 2015, where one of the following situations applies:

  1. You receive covered health services from an out-of-network physician at an in-network hospital or ambulatory surgical center, in any one of the following circumstances:
    • An in-network physician is unavailable
      Example: You are not told that the scheduled in-network surgeon stepped out of the procedure and an out-of-network surgeon stepped in.
    • An out-of-network physician delivers services and you didn’t know that physician was out of network
      Example: You receive covered health services at an in-network ambulatory surgical center, and during that visit an out-of-network anesthesiologist provides services to you, without your knowing of that doctor’s out-of-network status.
    • You need unexpected medical services while receiving other services
      Example: Unexpected medical needs arise and an out-of-network surgeon is brought in to perform the unexpected services.

    If a network provider was available and you elected to receive services from a non-participating provider anyway, then it is not a surprise bill.

  2. An in-network physician referred you to an out-of-network provider, and you received covered health services without written consent acknowledging that you:
    • Knew that you are being referred to an out-of-network provider, and
    • Knew that getting services from that out-of-network provider could result in costs not covered by Beacon Health Options

    A referral to a non-participating provider occurs when:

    • the health care services are performed by a non-participating health care provider in the participating physician’s office or practice during the course of the same visit;
    • the participating physician sends a specimen taken from the patient in the physician’s office to a non-participating laboratory or pathologist; or
    • for any other health care services when referrals are required under the member’s contract (i.e., a gatekeeper such as HMO or POS)
    • Example 1: You receive covered health services in an in-network physician’s office, and during that visit an out-of-network provider in the same office or practice provides services to you, without your written consent that you knew of that provider’s out-of-network status and that you may incur non-covered costs.
      Example 2: An in-network physician sends your lab specimen taken during an in-network office visit to an out-of-network lab or pathologist, without your written consent that you knew of that provider’s out-of-network status and that you may incur non-covered costs.
  3. An individual covered by a self funded plan receives health services from a provider at a hospital or ambulatory surgical center, where the health care provider did not give the individual certain required information.

How does Beacon Health Options process claims for non-emergency surprise bills?

If Beacon Health Options gets a claim for out-of-network services that isn’t submitted with a completed surprise bill Assignment of Benefits Form, Beacon Health Options will process the claim as usual – that is, we will deny the claim if you only have in-network coverage, e.g., HMO or EPO, or, if your plan includes out-of-network benefits (usually called a PPO or POS plan), we will process the claim according to the terms and conditions that normally apply to out-of-network services — which usually involve higher cost-sharing and higher out-of-pocket costs than for covered in-network services. We will then send you a notice — either within, or together with, your Explanation of Benefits — explaining that the claim could be a surprise bill, and that you should contact Beacon Health Options or refer to this web page for instructions on what to do next.

If Beacon Health Options gets a claim for out-of-network services along with a completed surprise bill Assignment of Benefits Form, or a claim that we determine is a surprise bill without also receiving a surprise bill Assignment of Benefits Form, we will send you a notice explaining that:

  • Your out-of-pocket costs for the services related to the surprise bill won’t be any higher than if you’d received them from an in-network provider,
  • Your cost-sharing for the services may increase if an IDRE (independent dispute resolution entity) decides that Beacon Health Options must pay an additional amount(s) to the provider for the services, and
  • You should contact Beacon Health Options if the out-of-network provider bills you for the out-of-network service.

What if Beacon Health Options doesn’t know a claim should be handled as a surprise bill?

We will process the claim as described above and provide notice that it may be a surprise bill.

If you feel Beacon Health Options should have processed a claim as a surprise bill, you should complete a surprise bill Assignment of Benefits Form and submit it to Beacon Health Options You also have the option to dispute our decision on the claim by filing a grievance.

For the address and other contact options for submitting forms, and for instructions on filing a grievance, see the section on this page “Disputing Claims for Out-of-Network Emergency Services or Surprise Bills.”