Friday, February 3, 2023
The No Surprises Act: A Conservative Band-Aid to Protect Business as Usual
Marc A. Rodwin (Suffolk University), Alan Sager (Boston University), The No Surprises Act: A Conservative Band-Aid to Protect Business as Usual, 53 Int’l J. Soc. Determinants Health & Health 1 (2023):
Hailed as a major reform, the No Surprises Act (NSA) is a profoundly conservative law that aims neither to reform design of insurance, to regulate fees, nor to limit health care spending. The NSA mitigates a perverse but narrow problem: unpredictable and uncontrollable high out-of-pocket bills for individuals who are unable to receive care within their insurance network. However, the NSA neglects to address the broader high medical costs, limited choice of caregivers, and the resulting insecurity and unfairness that characterize American health care. It allows caregivers to extract high payments and insurers to restrict choice of caregivers. Insurers can continue to employ ineffective cost controls that generate unpredictable high out-of-pocket costs for patients—and high levels of denial of payments to doctors and hospitals. The law amputated the most politically and visibly gangrenous consequences of unregulated private insurance in the United States in ways that enable business as usual in private health insurance to persist, subject to unnecessarily complex arbitration rules that magnify administrative waste.