Surprised by That Medical Bill? You Aren't Alone


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