Understanding costs in advance
Getting cost estimates before you get an item or service if you’re uninsured or self-pay
Beginning January 1, 2022, if you’re uninsured or you pay for health care bills yourself (don’t have your claims submitted to your health plan), health care providers and facilities must provide you with an estimate of expected charges before you get an item or service. This is called a “good faith estimate.” Providers and facilities must provide you with a good faith estimate if you request one, or after you’ve scheduled an item or service. It should include expected charges for the primary item or service you’re getting, and any other items or services that are provided as part of the same scheduled experience.
The provider or facility you contact for a good faith estimate must provide a list of all items and services associated with your care. In 2022, the estimate isn’t required to include items and services provided to you by another provider or facility, but you can also ask these providers or facilities for a separate good faith estimate. In 2023, the provider or facility you contact will be required to provide co-provider or co-facility cost information.
For example, if you’re getting surgery, the good faith estimate could include the cost of the surgery, any lab services or tests, and the anesthesia used during the operation. But, in some instances, items or services related to the surgery that is scheduled separately, like pre-surgery appointments or physical therapy in the weeks after the surgery, might not be included in the good faith estimate.
Providers and facilities must:
- Provide the good faith estimate before an item or service is scheduled, within certain timeframes.
- Offer an itemized list of each item or service, grouped by the provider or facility offering care. Each item or service has to have specific details, like the health care code assigned to it and the expected charge.
- Explain the good faith estimate to you over the phone or in person if you request it, and then follow up with a written (paper or electronic) estimate.
- Provide the good faith estimate in a way that’s accessible to you.
Once you receive a good faith estimate from your provider or facility, be sure to keep it in a safe place so you can compare it to any bills you get later. View an example of what a good faith estimate (PDF) may include. If you’ve had your service and find that the billed amount is at least $400 above the good faith estimate, you may be eligible to start a patient-provider dispute resolution process. Learn more about the dispute resolution process, including eligibility requirements and what information or documents you need to start a dispute.
Insurance ID cards
Starting in 2022, new pricing information will be shown on any physical or electronic plan or the insurance identification card (ID) provided to you.
This will include:
- Applicable deductibles
- Applicable out-of-pocket maximum limits
- A telephone number and website where you can get help or more information
A health plan may provide additional information on their website that you can access through a Quick Response code (commonly referred to as a QR code) on a physical ID card, or through a hyperlink on a digital ID card.