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How you can prevent surprise medical bills

surprise medical bills

Recently HealthSparq — which partners with health plans to provide cost and quality information about doctors, hospitals and medical services — set out to find how common unexpected medical bills are.

In just the last 12 months, it found that more than half (53 percent) of all respondents had received a so-called “surprise” medical bill, including:

  • Bills that were higher than expected (60 percent)
  • Bills for services thought to be covered by insurance but weren’t (62 percent)
  • Multiple bills from multiple providers when just one bill was expected (42 percent)

Due to the serious impact surprise medical bills have on people’s household budgets, the HealthSparq  survey also found that some are cutting back on health care costs at their own risk, skipping:

  • Routine check-ups (40 percent)
  • Routine physical or other preventative health care screening (39 percent)
  • Care when they (or a family member) were injured (39 percent)

So what steps can you take to keep from finding yourself in the same situation?

Here are a few tips:

  1. Be proactive: Ensure your doctor is in your insurance company’s network, and estimate the cost of your procedure or treatment and compare costs using the resources provided by your health plan or your doctor.
  2. Be completely open and honest: Bring a family member or friend to help you feel more comfortable when speaking with your doctor so you are more likely to share all of your symptoms.
  3. Advocate for yourself: Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion if you feel uncertain about a prescribed treatment. Also be sure to use online resources at your disposal to research different options for care and/or treatments.

Read more stories about “surprise” medical bills at Voices for Affordable Health, and share your own story.