June 12, 2024

Billing Revolution: How the No Surprises Act is Reshaping Emergency and Urgent Healthcare

By Husnain Siraj, Partner, Assurance Services

Billing Revolution: How the No Surprises Act is Reshaping Emergency and Urgent Healthcare Healthcare

The healthcare landscape in the United States is undergoing a pivotal transformation with the introduction of the No Surprises Act (NSA), which took effect on January 1, 2022. This groundbreaking legislation aims to protect patients from unexpected medical bills for out-of-network services, particularly in emergency and urgent care scenarios. As healthcare providers and facilities nationwide adapt to these changes, understanding the NSA’s implications for emergency and urgent care centers is crucial for maintaining compliance and ensuring patient trust.

Impact on Emergency Centers

The No Surprises Act marks a significant shift in how billing practices are handled for emergency centers. Emergency services, by their very nature, leave little room for patients to consider their network options during critical moments. The NSA ensures that patients requiring emergency medical attention are charged in-network rates regardless of the service provider’s network status. This eliminates the fear of financial distress on top of medical emergencies but presents operational challenges for emergency centers as they navigate the complexities of the new billing system.

Urgent Care Centers’ Response

Urgent care centers often serve as a bridge between primary care and emergency services, providing timely care without needing an emergency room visit. The NSA’s implementation requires these centers to be transparent about their network affiliations and billing practices. Patients must be informed if the center is out-of-network and given an estimate of charges before receiving care. This transparency is expected to build trust but may also influence patient decisions on where to seek care, potentially affecting patient volumes at urgent care centers.

Financial Implications

Both emergency and urgent care centers must reassess their financial management strategies in light of the NSA. With the act in place, facilities can no longer rely on higher out-of-network charges to balance their books. Instead, they must negotiate with insurers for fair reimbursement rates, streamline operational costs, and enhance the efficiency of care delivery to remain financially stable. The act also calls for a robust dispute resolution process, which adds another layer of financial consideration for healthcare providers.


The No Surprises Act represents a critical step towards protecting patients from the financial shock of unexpected medical bills. While it poses particular challenges for emergency and urgent care centers in the USA, it also offers an opportunity for these facilities to refine their practices and prioritize patient-centered care. By embracing the changes brought about by the NSA and adapting to its requirements, healthcare providers can continue to offer crucial services without compromising on the financial well-being of their patients. As the healthcare industry moves forward, the full impact of the NSA will become clearer, paving the way for a more transparent and fair medical billing landscape.