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On Jan. 1, Americans woke up with some new protections from giant medical bills. 

Meet the No Surprises Act. It’s a new law that protects patients from one of the worst experiences the U.S. health care system has to offer — surprise out-of-network hospital bills. That’s when a person gets hit with a bill from an out-of-network provider at an in-network hospital. Under the new law, if a person visits an in-network hospital and is seen by an out-of-network provider, that provider and the insurer have to work it out for themselves. Patients are only on the hook for what they would’ve paid an in-network provider. That’s a big deal.

But there are some caveats (because, of course). For instance: These protections apply only to care in a hospital. Then there’s the deceptively named Surprise Billing Protection form that patients might be asked to sign, waiving these newly won rights. And there’s more. 

This episode of “An Arm and a Leg” breaks down what you need to know about your rights under this new law, what traps to look out for, and who to call if something smells fishy.

Actually, here: The federal hotline for reporting No Surprises Act violations is at 1-800-985-3059. 

Here’s a transcript of the episode


“An Arm and a Leg” is a co-production of KHN and Public Road Productions.

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