First Aid for your Surprise Medical Bills

First Aid for your Surprise Medical Bills

Medical bills are not the kind of “surprise” most people like to receive. Surprise medical bills can happen when you go to an in-network facility and then unexpectedly receive a bill from an out of network provider.   It also can happen when you go to the Emergency Room and you receive a bill from an out of network specialist..

Sometimes despite your best efforts to use only in-network hospitals and in-network providers, you can  end up with a surprise medical bill. Consumers Union reported in 2015 that nearly one –third of people with commercial insurance received a surprise medical bill.  If you received one of these unwelcome surprises, we have some tips on what you can do about them.


Tips for dealing with “Surprise Medical Bills”

  • Check your bill with your insurance statement for any basic errors such as the wrong name, insurance ID, dates of service or incorrect services
  • Call your insurance company for assistance and explain that you went to an in-network facility or an emergency room but received an out of network bill
  • Call the billing office and ask if they would be willing to discount your bill to the in-network rate
  • Check your state laws to see if there are legislative protections for surprise medical bills. The Consumer’s Union website maintains a map of states that currently have these protections. The Commonwealth Fund also has information about protections for consumers.
  • Contact your state’s department of insurance for assistance

Surprise medical bills are a far too common occurrence with healthcare consumers despite their best attempts to avoid these types of bills. Fortunately, it appears this issue is getting traction in state legislatures these days with many states working on solutions for these situations.

In the meantime, you can advocate for yourself to resolve your surprise medical bills. If you are unable or don’t have the time to do this yourself, you can hire a medical billing advocate to do this for you. You can read more of my recent tips for reducing medical debt in The Wall Street Journal and U.S. News and World Report.


Join the conversation! Did you receive a surprise medical bill? Were you able to get this resolved on your own and how did you do it? 



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