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Balanced billing – also known as surprise billing – is a particular pain point for health care customers. Surprise billing burdens millions of individuals and families with hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars in unexpected health care costs. Despite provisions in the 2020 CARES Act that prohibit this practice among health care providers and practices that accepted emergency COVID-19 funding, we believed that an additional safety net for our customers was important to protect them from the risk of unexpected charges due to receiving out-of-network COVID-19 care.
Launched in May 2020, Cigna’s COVID-19 Customer Protection Program was designed to help families minimize the stress and financial strain of COVID-19 surprise billing. The program has several components, including proactive outreach to Cigna customers who are at risk of surprise billing and special handling from Customer Service Advocates for customers who call us because they believe they have been billed incorrectly. Our commitment to our customers is to resolve each matter directly with the billing provider on the customer’s behalf. Additionally, in order to prevent other customers from being taken advantage of, we report any excessive or egregious COVID-19 billing practices to state and federal regulatory officials.
To date, the program has identified more than 250,000 customer households as being at risk for receiving surprise bills as a result of out-of-network COVID-19 care, and the average risk exposure per household exceeds $800.