2017 California Code
Health and Safety Code - HSC
DIVISION 2 - LICENSING PROVISIONS
CHAPTER 2.2 - Health Care Service Plans
ARTICLE 5 - Standards
Section 1371.9.

1371.9.  

(a) (1) Except as provided in subdivision (c), a health care service plan contract issued, amended, or renewed on or after July 1, 2017, shall provide that if an enrollee receives covered services from a contracting health facility at which, or as a result of which, the enrollee receives services provided by a noncontracting individual health professional, the enrollee shall pay no more than the same cost sharing that the enrollee would pay for the same covered services received from a contracting individual health professional. This amount shall be referred to as the “in-network cost-sharing amount.”

(2) An enrollee shall not owe the noncontracting individual health professional more than the in-network cost-sharing amount for services subject to this section. At the time of payment by the plan to the noncontracting individual health professional, the plan shall inform the enrollee and the noncontracting individual health professional of the in-network cost-sharing amount owed by the enrollee.

(3) A noncontracting individual health professional shall not bill or collect any amount from the enrollee for services subject to this section except for the in-network cost-sharing amount. Any communication from the noncontracting individual health professional to the enrollee prior to the receipt of information about the in-network cost-sharing amount pursuant to paragraph (2) shall include a notice in 12-point bold type stating that the communication is not a bill and informing the enrollee that the enrollee shall not pay until he or she is informed by his or her health care service plan of any applicable cost sharing.

(4) (A) If the noncontracting individual health professional has received more than the in-network cost-sharing amount from the enrollee for services subject to this section, the noncontracting individual health professional shall refund any overpayment to the enrollee within 30 calendar days after receiving payment from the enrollee.

(B) If the noncontracting individual health professional does not refund any overpayment to the enrollee within 30 calendar days after being informed of the enrollee’s in-network cost-sharing amount, interest shall accrue at the rate of 15 percent per annum beginning with the date payment was received from the enrollee.

(C) A noncontracting individual health professional shall automatically include in his or her refund to the enrollee all interest that has accrued pursuant to this section without requiring the enrollee to submit a request for the interest amount.

(b) Except for services subject to subdivision (c), the following shall apply:

(1) Any cost sharing paid by the enrollee for the services subject to this section shall count toward the limit on annual out-of-pocket expenses established under Section 1367.006.

(2) Cost sharing arising from services subject to this section shall be counted toward any deductible in the same manner as cost sharing would be attributed to a contracting individual health professional.

(3) The cost sharing paid by the enrollee pursuant to this section shall satisfy the enrollee’s obligation to pay cost sharing for the health service and shall constitute “applicable cost sharing owed by the enrollee.”

(c) For services subject to this section, if an enrollee has a health care service plan that includes coverage for out-of-network benefits, a noncontracting individual health professional may bill or collect from the enrollee the out-of-network cost sharing, if applicable, only when the enrollee consents in writing and that written consent demonstrates satisfaction of all the following criteria:

(1) At least 24 hours in advance of care, the enrollee shall consent in writing to receive services from the identified noncontracting individual health professional.

(2) The consent shall be obtained by the noncontracting individual health professional in a document that is separate from the document used to obtain the consent for any other part of the care or procedure. The consent shall not be obtained by the facility or any representative of the facility. The consent shall not be obtained at the time of admission or at any time when the enrollee is being prepared for surgery or any other procedure.

(3) At the time consent is provided, the noncontracting individual health professional shall give the enrollee a written estimate of the enrollee’s total out-of-pocket cost of care. The written estimate shall be based on the professional’s billed charges for the service to be provided. The noncontracting individual health professional shall not attempt to collect more than the estimated amount without receiving separate written consent from the enrollee or the enrollee’s authorized representative, unless circumstances arise during delivery of services that were unforeseeable at the time the estimate was given that would require the provider to change the estimate.

(4) The consent shall advise the enrollee that he or she may elect to seek care from a contracted provider or may contact the enrollee’s health care service plan in order to arrange to receive the health service from a contracted provider for lower out-of-pocket costs.

(5) The consent and estimate shall be provided to the enrollee in the language spoken by the enrollee, if the language is a Medi-Cal threshold language, as defined in subdivision (d) of Section 128552.

(6) The consent shall also advise the enrollee that any costs incurred as a result of the enrollee’s use of the out-of-network benefit shall be in addition to in-network cost-sharing amounts and may not count toward the annual out-of-pocket maximum on in-network benefits or a deductible, if any, for in-network benefits.

(d) A noncontracting individual health professional who fails to comply with the requirements of subdivision (c) has not obtained written consent for purposes of this section. Under those circumstances, subdivisions (a) and (b) shall apply and subdivision (c) shall not apply.

(e) (1) A noncontracting individual health professional may advance to collections only the in-network cost-sharing amount, as determined by the plan pursuant to subdivision (a) or the out-of-network cost-sharing amount owed pursuant to subdivision (c), that the enrollee has failed to pay.

(2) The noncontracting individual health professional, or any entity acting on his or her behalf, including any assignee of the debt, shall not report adverse information to a consumer credit reporting agency or commence civil action against the enrollee for a minimum of 150 days after the initial billing regarding amounts owed by the enrollee under subdivision (a) or (c).

(3) With respect to an enrollee, the noncontracting individual health professional, or any entity acting on his or her behalf, including any assignee of the debt, shall not use wage garnishments or liens on primary residences as a means of collecting unpaid bills under this section.

(f) For purposes of this section and Sections 1371.30 and 1371.31, the following definitions shall apply:

(1) “Contracting health facility” means a health facility that is contracted with the enrollee’s health care service plan to provide services under the enrollee’s plan contract. A contracting health care facility includes, but is not limited to, the following providers:

(A) A licensed hospital.

(B) An ambulatory surgery or other outpatient setting, as described in subdivision (a), (d), (e), (g), or (h) of Section 1248.1.

(C) A laboratory.

(D) A radiology or imaging center.

(2) “Cost sharing” includes any copayment, coinsurance, or deductible, or any other form of cost sharing paid by the enrollee other than premium or share of premium.

(3) “Individual health professional” means a physician and surgeon or other professional who is licensed by this state to deliver or furnish health care services. For this purpose, an “individual health professional” shall not include a dentist, licensed pursuant to the Dental Practice Act (Chapter 4 (commencing with Section 1600) of Division 2 of the Business and Professions Code).

(4) “In-network cost-sharing amount” means an amount no more than the same cost sharing the enrollee would pay for the same covered service received from a contracting health professional. The in-network cost-sharing amount with respect to an enrollee with coinsurance shall be based on the amount paid by the plan pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 1371.31.

(5) “Noncontracting individual health professional” means a physician and surgeon or other professional who is licensed by the state to deliver or furnish health care services and who is not contracted with the enrollee’s health care service product. For this purpose, a “noncontracting individual health professional” shall not include a dentist, licensed pursuant to the Dental Practice Act (Chapter 4 (commencing with Section 1600) of Division 2 of the Business and Professions Code). Application of this definition is not precluded by a noncontracting individual health professional’s affiliation with a group.

(g) This section shall not be construed to require a health care service plan to cover services not required by law or by the terms and conditions of the health care service plan contract.

(h) This section shall not be construed to exempt a plan or provider from the requirements under Section 1371.4 or 1373.96, nor abrogate the holding in Prospect Medical Group, Inc. v. Northridge Emergency Medical Group (2009) 45 Cal.4th 497.

(i) If a health care service plan delegates payment functions to a contracted entity, including, but not limited to, a medical group or independent practice association, the delegated entity shall comply with this section.

(j) This section shall not apply to a Medi-Cal managed health care service plan or any other entity that enters into a contract with the State Department of Health Care Services pursuant to Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 14000), Chapter 8 (commencing with Section 14200), and Chapter 8.75 (commencing with Section 14591) of Part 3 of Division 9 of the Welfare and Institutions Code.

(k) This section shall not apply to emergency services and care, as defined in Section 1317.1.

(Added by Stats. 2016, Ch. 492, Sec. 3. (AB 72) Effective January 1, 2017.)

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