Come New Year and people will no longer need to fear balance billing when it comes to air ambulances. However, the general public is not entirely educated enough about the advantages that the No Surprises Bill brings to the table. Once it comes to effect on January 1, 2022, people will no longer be liable for any bills from air ambulances. It is designed to protect customers from exorbitant charges that are levied on them for exercising their right to live and get adequate healthcare. However, with the new bill coming into effect, there is bound to be some confusion and the potential for people to fall prey to unfair financial practices.
Support for Rights Knowledge
Customers are urged to know their rights by educating themselves thoroughly. Of course, there are going to be issued as to where one can find the right sources for doing so. One such guide has been presented by US PIRGS. The Department of Health and Human Services (popularly known as HHS) will have a dedicated helpline for consumers in this regard. Anyone can call this line to know more about the bill and also raise any complaints that they may have about air ambulances or medical practices in general from physician to hospital services. The scope must be limited to billing practices while doing so.
There is Opposition to the New Bill
Certain air ambulances, doctors’ associations, and hospital conglomerates are opposing the new bill. The primary reason that they are doing so is a strong belief that the new rules favor insurance companies. Their grouse is that insurance companies will arbitrarily be able to decide the payout for the medical services rendered. They also clarify that their intent is not to take away the advantage that the patients get but to create a fair playing ground with the insurance industry.
The No Surprises Bill is slated to come into effect soon. If all goes well, the bill will come into effect from the first month of next year. In this regard, the US air ambulance industry is preparing itself. This is especially so for organizations that are funded by private equity with the sole motive of profit. Survivability could be an issue for most small players in the industry. As with any other industry, the US air ambulance industry too may soon look at mergers to cut costs and increase efficiency. The primary reason behind this is an expectation that the payouts for the services are going to get thinner.
US Air Ambulance Acquisitions Cannot Be Discounted
For the big players with deep pockets, it is an opportunity to acquire the smaller ones to increase their reach. In this uncertain time for the US air ambulance industry, it would not be surprising that some of the smaller players start fearing bankruptcy. This is an opportunity for the biggies as they will surely get an upper hand in negotiations. The industry might soon veer towards oligopoly. In other words, it would not be surprising to see just a few organizations controlling the US air ambulance industry.
Rural Access to Air Ambulance Services
The No Surprises Bill has trained all its guns towards the pricing but not at the accessibility problems that may possibly result from fewer players in the market. It is noteworthy that the rural parts of America need air ambulances most but from a business point of view, they are the least profit-making. The result could be a lack of motivation for the US air ambulance industry to look at these areas. Of course, the government – through policy changes – can incentivize air ambulance services to look at these regions.
As the year 2021 draws to a close, the No Surprise Bill will make its way. Soon, it will be illegal to charge patients for medical flight services availed during emergencies. However, there are several groups that are opposing this change vehemently. What does it actually mean to the common man? Will there be a compromise in care due to the bill? These are some of the questions that are bothering several people across the United States. In this context, it is not just some players involved in medical flight services who are opposing this bill, there are several medical practitioners too who have joined the chorus.
Not Just Medical Flight Services
It is not only the medical flight services that will be included in the No Surprise Bill but also medical care in general. Medical scans, lab tests, consultations, treatment, etc., too will come under this bill. The common man would be completely insulated from being responsible for bearing such medical expenses. Instead, it will be a matter that has to be sorted between the service providers and the insurance companies. Experts say that, on its part, the insurance company has already come up with standard payments for certain services. This move has been a thorn that has bothered medical professionals.
Private-Equity-Based Care Will Bear the Brunt of It
There are several for-profit organizations out there that literally compel people to opt for services that come under particular insurance networks, failing this, the patient would be liable to make the balance payments that the insurance does not cover. This is set to change with the bill which will come into effect from January 2022. The insurance payments too are slated to come down, which means that the United States will see some cooling off when it comes to healthcare costs in general. Currently, US healthcare costs are among the highest in the world.