Andrew Heymann was helping a neighbor move a large glass table two years ago when it shattered and sliced his ankle, causing a serious injury. He was transported to Hackensack University Medical Center, where a plastic surgeon stitched up the wound.
Heymann told the NewsHour that Hackensack University Medical Center is in-network in his Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance plan. But the surgeon was not. The procedure cost $6,000, and Heymann owed $5,000 — a cost that shocked him. “I’m thinking there’s no way I’m going to pay this. This is insane,” he said.
This is not an uncommon story. Patients all over the country face “surprise medical bills,” which come when their health plans pay less than they expect. A 2015 Consumer Reports study found that 30 percent of survey participants have received a surprise medical bill, most in the last two years. Of those, 23 percent received a bill from a doctor they did not expect, and 14 percent paid out-of-network rates for a doctor they thought was in-network.
Sometimes, like in Heymann’s case, these costs happen because patients see an out-of-network doctor at an in-network hospital. Even when doctors are in-network, some with high deductibles are surprised by what they owe.
We’re asking: Have you or has someone close to you been affected by a surprise medical bill? The PBS NewsHour reporting team is gathering personal stories from Americans who have faced unexpected costs for medical treatment.