NPR-Kaiser Health News Bill Of The Month Bill of the Month is a crowdsourced project by NPR and Kaiser Health News that investigates and explains real-life medical bills.
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Bill Of The Month

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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"Before the appendectomy, I was looking for property and homes to purchase, and that is pretty much completely off the table right now," says Shannon Harness, a veteran who was uninsured when he had two appendicitis-related surgeries in 2019. The bills amounted to $80,232. Rachel Woolf for KHN hide caption

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Rachel Woolf for KHN

Veteran's Appendectomy Launches Excruciating, Months-Long Battle Over Bill

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Izzy Benasso injured her knee while playing tennis with her father Steve Benasso in Denver. After the college student had knee surgery to repair the injury, her dad noticed her medical bills included a separate one from a surgical assistant for $1,167. Rachel Woolf for KHN hide caption

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Rachel Woolf for KHN

The Knee Surgeon Was In-Network. The Surgical Assistant Wasn't, And Billed $1,167

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Insurers must cover coronavirus testing, according to federal law, but medical visits to discuss symptoms may not be covered, unless a test is ordered at that time. ER Productions Limited/Getty Images hide caption

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ER Productions Limited/Getty Images

She Went To The ER To Try To Get A Coronavirus Test And Ended Up $1,840 In Debt

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With physician offices not seeing patients with COVID-19 symptoms in April, Timothy Regan said he had little choice when Denver Health directed him first to its urgent care facility and then to its emergency room. "I felt bad, but I had been dealing with it for a while," he says. Ethan Welty for KHN hide caption

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Ethan Welty for KHN

ER Visit For COVID-19 Symptoms Stuck Man With A $3,278 Bill

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Anna Davis Abel, a graduate student studying creative writing at West Virginia University, couldn't get tested for COVID-19 until her doctor ruled out other possible illnesses. Rebecca Kiger for KHN hide caption

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Rebecca Kiger for KHN

COVID-19 Tests That Are Supposed To Be Free Can Ring Up Surprising Charges

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Michelle Kuppersmith's doctor recommended a bone marrow biopsy after suspecting she had a rare blood disorder. Though the biopsy was done by an in-network provider at an in-network hospital, Kuppersmith learned she was on the hook for $2,400 for out-of-network genetic profiling. Shelby Knowles for KHN hide caption

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Shelby Knowles for KHN

A drug implant was prescribed for an active 8-year-old girl diagnosed with central precocious puberty. The price of one option was thousands of dollars less than the other. Kristina Barker for KHN hide caption

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Kristina Barker for KHN

Hormone Blocker Sticker Shock: Kids Drug Costs 8 Times More Than One For Adults

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Joshua Bates, a technical recruiter for a staffing firm, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., was "balance billed" by an out-of-network hospital after an emergency appendectomy. Logan Cyrus for KHN hide caption

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Logan Cyrus for KHN

A $41,212 Surgery Bill Compounded A Patient's Appendicitis Pain

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When Alexa Kasdan's sore throat lingered for more than a week, she went to her doctor. The doctor sent her throat swab and blood draw to an out-of-network lab for sophisticated DNA tests, resulting in a $28,395.50 bill. Shelby Knowles for Kaiser Health News hide caption

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Shelby Knowles for Kaiser Health News

For Her Head Cold, Insurer Coughed Up $25,865

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Lucy Branson, now 4, holds Polly Pocket shoes like the ones she put in her nose. Heidi de Marco/KHN hide caption

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Heidi de Marco/KHN

Nothing To Sneeze At: $2,659 Bill To Pluck Doll's Shoe From Girl's Nose

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Arline Feilen (left) and her sister, Kathy McCoy, at their mother's home in the Chicago suburbs. The biggest chunk of Feilen's bill was $16,480 for four nights in a room shared with another patient. McCoy joked that it would have been cheaper to stay at the Ritz-Carlton. Alyssa Schukar for KHN hide caption

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Alyssa Schukar for KHN

A Woman's Grief Led To A Mental Health Crisis And A $21,634 Hospital Bill

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An unexpected charge related to a biopsy threatened the financial security of Brianna Snitchler and her partner. Callie Richmond for Kaiser Health News hide caption

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Callie Richmond for Kaiser Health News

A Biopsy Came With An Unexpected $2,170 'Cover Charge' For The Hospital

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Before scheduling his hernia surgery, Wolfgang Balzer called the hospital, the surgeon and the anesthesiologist to get estimates for how much the procedure would cost. But when his bill came, the estimates he had obtained were wildly off. John Woike for Kaiser Health News hide caption

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John Woike for Kaiser Health News

Bill Of The Month: Estimate For Cost Of Hernia Surgery Misses The Mark

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Sovereign Valentine, a personal trainer in Plains, Mont., needs dialysis for his end-stage renal disease. When he first started dialysis treatments, Fresenius Kidney Care clinic in Missoula charged $13,867.74 per session, or about 59 times the $235 Medicare pays for a dialysis session. Tommy Martino/Kaiser Health News hide caption

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Tommy Martino/Kaiser Health News

Sovereign Valentine and his wife, Jessica, wait as a dialysis machine filters his blood. Before finding a dialysis clinic in their insurance network, the Valentines were charged more than a half-million dollars for 14 weeks of treatment. Tommy Martino/Kaiser Health News hide caption

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Tommy Martino/Kaiser Health News

First Came Kidney Failure. Then There Was The $540,842 Bill For Dialysis

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Liv Cannon and her fiancé, Cole Chiumento, considered calling off their wedding because of uncertainty over medical debt from her surgery. "I think about it every time I go to the mailbox," Cannon says. Julia Robinson for Kaiser Health News hide caption

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Julia Robinson for Kaiser Health News

A Year After Spinal Surgery, A $94,031 Bill Feels Like A Backbreaker

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