facebook Think planning your surgery is the best way to avoid surprise medical bills? Think again.

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Think planning your surgery is the best way to avoid surprise medical bills? Think again.

Studies show about 1 in 5 patients who seek medical care in a hospital emergency room later receive excessive and unexpected medical bills. But even those who plan ahead for a surgery are just as likely to find themselves on the hook for “surprise” charges.

A new study from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that 20.5 percent of elective surgeries performed at facilities and by primary surgeons within a patient’s insurance network still resulted in surprise out-of-network charges.

This isn’t just a problem for the individual patients, but for everyone. Axios reports that surprise medical bills can “raise health care costs for everyone.”

Researchers found that the average potential surprise bill was $2,011, with the South and Northwest showing particularly high rates of these types of bills.

In the case of a surprise bill, the patient often had no choice about who treated them, resulting in surgical assistants, anesthesiologists and radiologists who weren’t in their insurer’s network.

Share your story with Voices for Affordable Health if you’ve ever received a surprise medial bill after an elective surgery.