Surprised by That Medical Bill? You Aren't Alone

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More than half of Americans surveyed report that they’ve been surprised by an unexpected medical bill they believed would be covered by their health insurance. The survey was a collaboration between the non-partisan and objective research organization, or NORC, at the University of Chicago, and AmeriSpeak, a panel representing households throughout the United States between August 16 and August 20, 2018. More than a thousand adults over 18 were interviewed for the survey.

Approximately 20 percent of surprise medical bills came from out-of-network providers, according to survey respondents. In addition to out-of-network costs, unexpected bills may show up when medical tests, procedures, or certain medications aren’t covered by an individual’s health care plan or are incurred before deductible or high cost-sharing requirements have been met.

Overall, 57 percent of those surveyed said they had gotten unexpected bills. Surprise medical charges revealed by survey respondents included those for:

  • physician services (53 percent)
  • laboratory tests (51 percent)
  • hospitals or other health care facilities (43 percent)
  • imaging (35 percent)
  • prescription medicines (29 percent)

Eighty-six percent of people surveyed blame health insurers as “very” or “somewhat” responsible for unexpected medical bills.

Sourced from: NORC at the University of Chicago