45 CFR § 149.420 - Balance billing in cases of non-emergency services performed by nonparticipating providers at certain participating health care facilities.

§ 149.420 Balance billing in cases of non-emergency services performed by nonparticipating providers at certain participating health care facilities.

(a) In general. A nonparticipating provider of a group health plan or group or individual health insurance coverage who provides items or services (other than emergency services) for which benefits are provided under the plan or coverage at a participating health care facility must not bill, and must not hold liable, a participant, beneficiary, or enrollee of such plan or coverage for a payment amount for such an item or service furnished by such provider with respect to a visit at the facility that exceeds the cost-sharing requirement for such item or service (as determined in accordance with 26 CFR 54.9816-5T(c)(1) and (2), 29 CFR 2590.717-1(c)(1) and (2), and § 149.120(c)(1) and (2), as applicable), unless the provider (or the participating health care facility on behalf of the provider) satisfies the notice and consent criteria of paragraph (c) of this section.

(b) Inapplicability of notice and consent exception to certain items and services. The notice and consent criteria in paragraphs (c) through (i) of this section do not apply, and a nonparticipating provider specified in paragraph (a) of this section will always be subject to the prohibitions in paragraph (a) of this section, with respect to the following services:

(1) Ancillary services, meaning -

(i) Items and services related to emergency medicine, anesthesiology, pathology, radiology, and neonatology, whether provided by a physician or non-physician practitioner;

(ii) Items and services provided by assistant surgeons, hospitalists, and intensivists;

(iii) Diagnostic services, including radiology and laboratory services; and

(iv) Items and services provided by a nonparticipating provider if there is no participating provider who can furnish such item or service at such facility.

(2) Items or services furnished as a result of unforeseen, urgent medical needs that arise at the time an item or service is furnished, regardless of whether the nonparticipating provider satisfied the notice and consent criteria in paragraph (c) of this section.

(c) Notice and consent to be treated by a nonparticipating provider. Subject to paragraph (f) of this section, and unless prohibited by State law, a nonparticipating provider satisfies the notice and consent criteria of this paragraph (c) with respect to items or services furnished by the provider to a participant, beneficiary, or enrollee of a group health plan or group or individual health insurance coverage, if the provider (or a participating health care facility on behalf on a nonparticipating provider) -

(1) Provides to the participant, beneficiary, or enrollee a written notice in paper or, as practicable, electronic form, as selected by the individual, that contains the information required under paragraph (d) of this section, provided such written notice is provided:

(i) In accordance with guidance issued by HHS, and in the form and manner specified in such guidance;

(ii) With the consent document, and is provided physically separate from other documents and not attached to or incorporated into any other document; and

(iii) To such participant, beneficiary, or enrollee -

(A) Not later than 72 hours prior to the date on which the individual is furnished such items or services, in the case where the appointment to be furnished such items or services is scheduled at least 72 hours prior to the date on which the individual is to be furnished such items and services; or

(B) On the date the appointment to be furnished such items or services is scheduled, in the case where the appointment is scheduled within 72 hours prior to the date on which such items or services are to be furnished. Where an individual is provided the notice on the same date that the items or services are to be furnished, providers and facilities are required to provide the notice no later than 3 hours prior to furnishing items or services to which the notice and consent requirements apply.

(2) Obtains from the participant, beneficiary, or enrollee the consent described in paragraph (e) of this section to be treated by the nonparticipating provider. An authorized representative may receive the notice on behalf of a participant, beneficiary, or enrollee, and may provide consent on behalf of the participant, beneficiary, or enrollee. For purposes of this section and § 149.410, an authorized representative is an individual authorized under State law to provide consent on behalf of the participant, beneficiary, or enrollee, provided that the individual is not a provider affiliated with the facility or an employee of the facility, unless such provider or employee is a family member of the participant, beneficiary, or enrollee. The consent must -

(i) Be provided voluntarily, meaning the individual is able to consent freely, without undue influence, fraud, or duress;

(ii) Be obtained in accordance with, and in the form and manner specified in, guidance issued by HHS; and

(iii) Not be revoked, in writing, by the participant, beneficiary, or enrollee prior to the receipt of items and services to which the consent applies.

(3) Provides a copy of the signed written notice and consent to the participant, beneficiary, or enrollee in-person or through mail or email, as selected by the participant, beneficiary, or enrollee.

(d) Information required under written notice. The written notice described in paragraph (c)(1) of this section must be provided in the form and manner specified by HHS in guidance, and must -

(1) State that the health care provider is a nonparticipating provider, with respect to the health plan or coverage.

(2) Include the good faith estimated amount that such nonparticipating provider may charge the participant, beneficiary, or enrollee for the items and services involved (including any item or service that is reasonably expected to be furnished by the nonparticipating provider in conjunction with such items or services), including notification that the provision of the estimate or consent to be treated under paragraph (e) of this section does not constitute a contract with respect to the charges estimated for such items and services or a contract that binds the participant, beneficiary, or enrollee to be treated by that provider or facility.

(3) Provide a statement that prior authorization or other care management limitations may be required in advance of receiving such items or services at the facility.

(4) Clearly state that consent to receive such items and services from such nonparticipating provider is optional and that the participant, beneficiary, or enrollee may instead seek care from an available participating provider, with respect to the plan or coverage, as applicable, and that in such cases the cost-sharing responsibility of the participant, beneficiary, or enrollee would not exceed the responsibility that would apply with respect to such an item or service that is furnished by a participating provider, as applicable, with respect to such plan.

(e) Consent described to be treated by a nonparticipating provider. The consent described in this paragraph (e), with respect to a participant, beneficiary, or enrollee of a group health plan or group or individual health insurance coverage who is to be furnished items or services by a nonparticipating provider, must be documented on a form specified by the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of Labor, through guidance and provided in accordance with such guidance, that must be signed by the participant, beneficiary, or enrollee before such items and services are furnished and that -

(1) Acknowledges in clear and understandable language that the participant, beneficiary, or enrollee has been -

(i) Provided with the written notice under paragraph (c) of this section, in the form selected by the participant, beneficiary, or enrollee.

(ii) Informed that the payment of such charge by the participant, beneficiary, or enrollee might not accrue toward meeting any limitation that the plan or coverage places on cost sharing, including an explanation that such payment might not apply to an in-network deductible or out-of-pocket maximum applied under the plan or coverage.

(2) States that by signing the consent, the individual agrees to be treated by the nonparticipating provider and understands the individual may be balance billed and subject to cost-sharing requirements that apply to services furnished by the nonparticipating provider.

(3) Documents the time and date on which the participant, beneficiary, or enrollee received the written notice described in paragraph (c) of this section and the time and date on which the individual signed the consent to be furnished such items or services by such nonparticipating provider.

(f) Language access.

(1) A nonparticipating provider (or the participating health care facility on behalf of the nonparticipating provider) must provide the individual with the choice to receive the written notice and consent document in any of the 15 most common languages in the State in which the applicable facility is located, except that the notice and consent document may instead be available in any of the 15 most common languages in a geographic region that reasonably reflects the geographic region served by the applicable facility; and

(2) If the individual's preferred language is not among the 15 most common languages in which the nonparticipating provider (or the participating health care facility on behalf of the nonparticipating provider) makes the notice and consent document available and the individual cannot understand the language in which the notice and consent document are provided, the notice and consent criteria in paragraph (c) of this section are not met unless the nonparticipating provider (or the participating health care facility on behalf of the nonparticipating provider) has obtained the services of a qualified interpreter to assist the individual with understanding the information contained in the notice and consent document.

(g) Scope of consent. The consent described in paragraph (e) of this section will constitute consent only to the receipt of the information provided pursuant to this section and will not constitute a contractual agreement of the participant, beneficiary, or enrollee to any estimated charge or amount included in such information, or to be treated by that provider or facility.

(h) Retention of certain documents. A participating health care facility (with respect to nonparticipating providers at such facility) that obtains from a participant, beneficiary, or enrollee of a group health plan or group or individual health insurance coverage a written consent in accordance with paragraph (e) of this section, with respect to furnishing an item or service to such an individual, must retain the written notice and consent for at least a 7-year period after the date on which the item or service is so furnished. If a nonparticipating provider obtains a signed consent from a participant, beneficiary, or enrollee, where the facility does not otherwise obtain the consent on behalf of the provider, the provider may either coordinate with the facility to retain the written notice and consent for a 7-year period, or the provider must retain the written notice and consent for a 7-year period.

(i) Notification to plan or issuer. For each item or service furnished by a nonparticipating provider described in paragraph (a) of this section, the provider (or the participating facility on behalf of the nonparticipating provider) must timely notify the plan or issuer that the item or service was furnished during a visit at a participating health care facility, and, if applicable, provide to the plan or issuer a copy of the signed written notice and consent document described in paragraphs (c) and (e) of this section. In instances where, to the extent permitted by this section, the nonparticipating provider bills the participant, beneficiary, or enrollee directly, the provider may satisfy the requirement to notify the plan or issuer by including the notice with the bill to the participant, beneficiary, or enrollee.

(j) Applicability date. The provisions of this section are applicable with respect to items and services furnished during a plan year (in the individual market, policy year) beginning on or after January 1, 2022.

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