July 31, 2023 — Issue Brief

Medical bills often arrive unexpectedly and send many families into a financial tailspin. Unanticipated out-of-network medical bills, which often happen during emergencies, are referred to as “surprise bills” and can reach hundreds or thousands of dollars. This issue brief provides a general overview of older patients’ rights against surprise medical bills, focusing on protections provided through Medicare/Medicaid, the No Surprises Act, and state laws. While older patients insured through public programs like Medicare are protected from surprise billing, recently implemented state and federal laws offer some protection to privately insured and uninsured patients. These additional federal and state protections are relevant to older adults who have one or multiple private insurers to supplement their Medicare coverage.