Surprise Medical Bills: Scaring Consumers Away from Needed Care

October 22, 2018

When a person is dealing with a painful broken bone, recounting their medical history while being poked, prodded and questioned by emergency room staff is stressful. Asking for specifics about their insurance network and mounting expenses doesn’t always come to mind.  

Surprise medical bills have become a flashpoint for consumers, providers and payers in the ER and beyond. Now even primary care visits commonly incur unforeseen lab test charges.

HealthSparq, part of the Cambia family of companies, conducted a study with independent research and analytics firm Hanover Research to get to the bottom of the phenomenon, and the numbers were striking.

Across more than 1,000 people surveyed, 53% reported they had been surprised by a medical bill in the past year alone. Either the charge was higher than expected, services thought to be covered by insurance weren’t, or multiple bills arrived when only one was anticipated.

Frustrated and fearful, people reported skipping care to make up for these costs. HealthSparq found patients forgoing:

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

Predicting charges isn’t always possible, but there are proven steps you can take to reduce your unexpected bills. Learn how to effectively advocate for your financial wellbeing, and about the study’s entire findings, on the HealthSparq blog, "What people need to know about surprise medical bills and how to prevent them."