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Bill Of The Month

Claudia and Jesús Fierro of Yuma, Ariz., review their medical bills. They pay $1,000 a month for health insurance yet still owed more than $7,000 after two episodes of care at the local hospital. Lisa Hornak for Kaiser Health News hide caption

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Lisa Hornak for Kaiser Health News

Hit with $7,146 for two hospital bills, a family sought health care in Mexico

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While Sean Deines and his wife, Rebekah, were traveling in Wyoming in 2020, Sean got very ill and was diagnosed with an aggressive leukemia. A huge air ambulance bill added to their stress. Maddy Alewine/Kaiser Health News hide caption

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Maddy Alewine/Kaiser Health News

The case of the $489,000 air ambulance ride

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Sugar and Greg Bull play with their twins, Redford and Scarlett, who were born prematurely in 2020. Their insurance company initially said the births were not an emergency, and the family ended up with bills totaling more than $80,000. Heidi de Marco/Kaiser Health News hide caption

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Heidi de Marco/Kaiser Health News

An $80,000 surprise bill points to a loophole in a new law to protect patients

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Dhaval Bhatt plays Monopoly with his children, Hridaya (left) and Martand, at their home in St. Peters, Missouri. Martand's mother took him to a children's hospital in April after he burned his hand, and the bill for the emergency room visit was more than $1,000 — even though the child was never seen by a doctor. Whitney Curtis for Kaiser Health News hide caption

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Whitney Curtis for Kaiser Health News

The doctor didn't show up, but the hospital ER still billed $1,012

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Baby Dorian Bennett arrived two months early and needed neonatal intensive care. Despite having insurance, mom Bisi Bennett and her husband faced a bill of more than $550,000 and were offered an installment payment plan of $45,843 per month for 12 months. Zack Wittman for Kaiser Health News hide caption

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Zack Wittman for Kaiser Health News

A hospital offered a payment plan for baby's NICU stay — $45,843 a month for a year

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Jason Dean received six stitches and a tetanus shot after he cut his knee in May. In August, his wife, DeeAnn, feared going to the same emergency room where he was treated, delaying her diagnosis of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Blake Farmer/WPLN News hide caption

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Blake Farmer/WPLN News

The ER charged him $6,589.77 for 6 stitches, a cost that led his wife to avoid the ER

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When Caitlin Wells Salerno and Jon Salerno's first son, Hank, was born, his delivery cost the family only $30. Gus' bill came in at more than $16,000, all told — including the $2,755 ER charge. The family was responsible for about $3,600 of the total. Rae Ellen Bichell/KHN hide caption

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Rae Ellen Bichell/KHN

A hospital hiked the price of a routine childbirth by calling it an 'emergency'

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Travis Warner of Dallas got tested for the coronavirus at a free-standing emergency room in June 2020 after one of his colleagues tested positive for the virus. The emergency room bill included a $54,000 charge for one test. Laura Buckman for KHN hide caption

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Laura Buckman for KHN

The Bill For His COVID Test In Texas Was A Whopping $54,000

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Ely Bair had two medically necessary jaw surgeries. For the first, in 2018, his share of the bill was $3,000. For the second, in 2019 after a job change, he was billed $27,000, even though he had the same insurance carrier. Jovelle Tamayo for Kaiser Health News hide caption

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Jovelle Tamayo for Kaiser Health News

Same Hospital And Insurer, But The Bill For His 2nd Jaw Procedure Was $24,000 More

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Phil Gaimon knows accidents are part of his sport. He had retired from competitive road cycling three years earlier, but a recruiting call came in the spring of 2019 from a coach of the USA Cycling track team. Heidi de Marco/KHN hide caption

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Heidi de Marco/KHN

Cyclist's Olympic Dream Becomes $200,000 Medical Bill Nightmare

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Mikkel and Kayla Kjelshus' daughter, Charlie, had a complication during delivery that caused her oxygen levels to drop and put her at risk for brain damage. Charlie needed seven days of neonatal intensive care, which resulted in a huge bill — $207,455 for the NICU alone — and confusion over which parent's insurer would cover the little girl's health costs. Christopher Smith for KHN hide caption

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Christopher Smith for KHN
Rose Wong for NPR/KHN

A Hospital Charged More Than $700 For Each Push Of Medicine Through Her IV

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Truck driver José Mendoza has a Humana HMO plan through his employer. It has a $5,000 deductible and 50% coinsurance, leaving him financially vulnerable. Bryan Cereijo for KHN hide caption

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Bryan Cereijo for KHN

A $10,322 Tab For A Sleep Apnea Study Is Enough To Wreck One Patient's Rest

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A car accident in 2019 smashed six of Mark Gottlieb's teeth and severely damaged four vertebrae. The spinal surgery he needed as a result led to medical bills that exhausted the personal injury coverage in his auto insurance. Erica Seryhm Lee for KHN hide caption

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Erica Seryhm Lee for KHN

Surprise: The Charge For His Spine Surgery After A Car Crash Topped $700,000

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Janice Chang for NPR and KHN

Her Doctor's Office Moved 1 Floor Up. Why Did Her Treatment Cost 10 Times More?

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Hofstra University student Divya Singh found herself beset by a double whammy of bills from two of the costliest kinds of institutions in America — colleges and hospitals. After experiencing anxiety when her family had trouble coming up with the money for her tuition, she sought counseling and ended up with a weeklong stay in a psychiatric hospital — and a resulting $3,413 bill. Jackie Molloy for KHN hide caption

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Jackie Molloy for KHN

College Tuition Sparked A Mental Health Crisis. Then The Hefty Hospital Bill Arrived

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Mikkel and Kayla Kjelshus' daughter, Charlie, had a complication during delivery that caused her oxygen levels to drop and put her at risk for brain damage. Charlie needed seven days of neonatal intensive care, which resulted in a huge bill — $207,455 for the NICU alone — and confusion over which parent's insurer would cover the little girl's health costs. Christopher Smith for KHN hide caption

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Christopher Smith for KHN

'Birthday Rule' Blindsides First-Time Parents With A Mammoth Medical Bill

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Adam Woodrum and his son, Robert, get ready for a bike ride near their home in Carson City, Nev., this month. During the summer, Robert had a bike accident that resulted in a hefty bill from the family's insurer. Maggie Starbard for KHN hide caption

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Maggie Starbard for KHN

A Kid, A Minor Bike Accident And A $19,000 Medical Bill

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When Tiffany Qiu found herself on the hook for her usual 30% Blue Shield of California coinsurance after the hospital quoted 20%, she pushed back. Shelby Knowles for KHN hide caption

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Shelby Knowles for KHN

Hit With An Unexpectedly High Medical Bill, Here's How A Savvy Patient Fought Back

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Matthew Fentress was diagnosed with heart disease that developed after a bout of the flu in 2014. His condition worsened three years later, and he had to declare bankruptcy when he couldn't afford his medical bills, despite having insurance. Meg Vogel for KHN hide caption

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Meg Vogel for KHN

Heart Disease Bankrupted Him Once. Now He Faces Another $10,000 Medical Bill

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