How to Fight ‘Surprise’ Medical Bills

If you’ve ever gotten a medical bill your insurance company wouldn’t pay, you’re not alone. Here’s how to fight back.

Thirty percent of privately insured Americans received a so-called “surprise” medical bill in the past two years, according to Consumer Reports.

In its study of 2,220 adults in the U.S. who have private health insurance, the Consumer Reports National Research Center defines these surprises as events where an insurance company pays less of a medical bill than the insured person expected. The survey was conducted in March by market research firm GfK.

The most common surprise billing issues are:

  • “The total amount charged was higher than I expected”: Cited by 63 percent of survey respondents
  • “I got a bill from a doctor I did not expect to get a bill from”: 23 percent
  • “I got separate bills from multiple providers”: 20 percent
  • “I was charged for an out-of-network rate when I thought the provider was in-network”: 14 percent
  • “Other”: 10 percent

Perhaps the worst news of all, however, is how few people know their rights when it comes to surprise medical billing issues.

In Consumer Reports’ survey, 87 percent of respondents said they didn’t know which state agency handles health insurance complaints.

In Florida, where Money Talks News is headquartered, the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Consumer Services fields health insurance-related complaints, for example.

To find out which agency handles health insurance-related complaints, use the resource that Consumers Union — the nonprofit policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports — recently launched.

Stacy Johnson

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