48.49.020  <<  48.49.030 >>   48.49.040

Enrollee's obligation to pay for servicesWhen satisfiedDetermination of commercially reasonable payment amount through good faith negotiation between carrier and out-of-network provider or facilityCarrier's duties. (Effective January 1, 2020.)

(1) If an enrollee receives emergency or nonemergency health care services under the circumstances described in RCW 48.49.020:
(a) The enrollee satisfies his or her obligation to pay for the health care services if he or she pays the in-network cost-sharing amount specified in the enrollee's or applicable group's health plan contract. The enrollee's obligation must be determined using the carrier's median in-network contracted rate for the same or similar service in the same or similar geographical area. The carrier must provide an explanation of benefits to the enrollee and the out-of-network provider that reflects the cost-sharing amount determined under this subsection.
(b) The carrier, out-of-network provider, or out-of-network facility, and an agent, trustee, or assignee of the carrier, out-of-network provider, or out-of-network facility must ensure that the enrollee incurs no greater cost than the amount determined under (a) of this subsection.
(c) The out-of-network provider or out-of-network facility, and an agent, trustee, or assignee of the out-of-network provider or out-of-network facility may not balance bill or otherwise attempt to collect from the enrollee any amount greater than the amount determined under (a) of this subsection. This does not impact the provider's ability to collect a past due balance for that cost-sharing amount with interest.
(d) The carrier must treat any cost-sharing amounts determined under (a) of this subsection paid by the enrollee for an out-of-network provider or facility's services in the same manner as cost-sharing for health care services provided by an in-network provider or facility and must apply any cost-sharing amounts paid by the enrollee for such services toward the enrollee's maximum out-of-pocket payment obligation.
(e) If the enrollee pays the out-of-network provider or out-of-network facility an amount that exceeds the in-network cost-sharing amount determined under (a) of this subsection, the provider or facility must refund any amount in excess of the in-network cost-sharing amount to the enrollee within thirty business days of receipt. Interest must be paid to the enrollee for any unrefunded payments at a rate of twelve percent beginning on the first calendar day after the thirty business days.
(2) The allowed amount paid to an out-of-network provider for health care services described under RCW 48.49.020 shall be a commercially reasonable amount, based on payments for the same or similar services provided in a similar geographic area. Within thirty calendar days of receipt of a claim from an out-of-network provider or facility, the carrier shall offer to pay the provider or facility a commercially reasonable amount. If the out-of-network provider or facility wants to dispute the carrier's payment, the provider or facility must notify the carrier no later than thirty calendar days after receipt of payment or payment notification from the carrier. If the out-of-network provider or facility disputes the carrier's initial offer, the carrier and provider or facility have thirty calendar days from the initial offer to negotiate in good faith. If the carrier and the out-of-network provider or facility do not agree to a commercially reasonable payment amount within thirty calendar days, and the carrier, out-of-network provider or out-of-network facility chooses to pursue further action to resolve the dispute, the dispute shall be resolved through arbitration, as provided in RCW 48.49.040.
(3) The carrier must make payments for health care services described in RCW 48.49.020 provided by out-of-network providers or facilities directly to the provider or facility, rather than the enrollee.
(4) Carriers must make available through electronic and other methods of communication generally used by a provider to verify enrollee eligibility and benefits information regarding whether an enrollee's health plan is subject to the requirements of chapter 427, Laws of 2019.
(5) A health care provider, hospital, or ambulatory surgical facility may not require a patient at any time, for any procedure, service, or supply, to sign or execute by electronic means, any document that would attempt to avoid, waive, or alter any provision of this section.
(6) This section shall only apply to health care providers or facilities providing services to members of entities administering a self-funded group health plan and its plan members if the entity has elected to participate in RCW 48.49.020 through 48.49.040 as provided in RCW 48.49.130.
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