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

Bridget Narsh at her home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Narsh's son has autism, post-traumatic stress disorder, and ADHD. In 2020, he spent more than 100 days at Central Regional Hospital, a state-run mental health facility. The state billed the family nearly $102,000 for the hospitalizations. Eamon Queeney/KFF Health News hide caption

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Eamon Queeney/KFF Health News

Bethany Birch paid more than $5,200 toward her medical debt after getting sued by Ballad Health in 2018. Owing to a Tennessee court judgment, she accrued an additional $2,700 in interest over that time. Maddy Alewine/KFF Health News hide caption

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Maddy Alewine/KFF Health News

The hospital bills didn't find her, but a lawsuit did — plus interest

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After emergency surgery, an American expatriate with Swiss insurance now carries the baggage of a five-figure bill. Aria Konishi/KFF Health News hide caption

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Aria Konishi/KFF Health News

He visited the U.S. for his daughter's wedding — and left with a $42,000 medical bill

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When she was pregnant with her twins, Sara Walsh was diagnosed with a serious complication and had to pay thousands upfront before a specialist would see her. Zack Wittman/KFF Health News hide caption

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Zack Wittman/KFF Health News

She was pregnant and had to find $15,000 overnight to save her twins

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A billing mistake by an in-network Florida emergency room landed Sara McLin's then-4-year-old son in collections. Zack Wittman/KHN hide caption

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Zack Wittman/KHN

Pay up, kid? An ER's error sends a 4-year-old to collections

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Brenna Kearney plays with her daughter, Joey, at home in Chicago. When Kearney was pregnant, she developed a rare type of preeclampsia and had to undergo an emergency cesarean section. Joey was discharged after a 36-day stay in the NICU. Taylor Glascock for KHN hide caption

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Taylor Glascock for KHN

A baby spent 36 days at an in-network hospital. Why did her parents get a huge bill?

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In 2013, Grace E. Elliott spent a night in a hospital in Florida for a kidney infection that was treated with antibiotics. Eight years later, she got a large bill from the health system that bought the hospital. This bill was for an unrelated surgical procedure she didn't need and never received. It was a case of mistaken identity, she knew, but proving that wasn't easy. Shelby Knowles for KHN hide caption

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Shelby Knowles for KHN

The case of the two Grace Elliotts: a medical bill mystery

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Jerry Bilinski, a retired social worker who lives in Fayetteville, N.C., says he deserves a full explanation from his medical team of what led to a small gash on his forehead during his surgery for a cataract. Eamon Queeney for KHN hide caption

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Eamon Queeney for KHN

He woke up from eye surgery with a gash on his forehead. What happened?

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Paul Hinds has navigated the financial maze of health care during treatment for prostate cancer with the help of his girlfriend, Dr. Josie Tenore. Taylor Glascock/Taylor Glascock hide caption

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Taylor Glascock/Taylor Glascock

It cost $38,398 for a single shot of a very old cancer drug

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After Frankie Cook's car accident on a wet road outside Rome, Ga., her father, Russell (right), got a lawyer's letter saying they owed a hospital emergency room more than $17,000 for scans and an exam to see if she had a concussion. Audra Melton for KHN hide caption

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Audra Melton for KHN

They were turned away from urgent care. The reason? Their car insurance

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Dani Yuengling of Conway, South Carolina, knew she had to follow up after a mammogram found a lump. Her mom had died of breast cancer. But she had no idea how expensive the biopsy would be. Gavin McIntyre for KHN hide caption

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Gavin McIntyre for KHN

An $18,000 biopsy? Paying cash might have been cheaper than using her insurance

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After a car crash, Peggy Dula was billed $3,606 in ambulance fees by a taxpayer-funded municipal fire department. Bram Sable-Smith/KHN hide caption

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Bram Sable-Smith/KHN

The ambulance chased one patient into collections

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Danilo Manimtim and his wife, Marilou, had identical cataract surgeries, but the charges were drastically different — even though the Fresno, California, couple were covered by the same health plan. Heidi de Marco/KHN hide caption

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Heidi de Marco/KHN

He and his wife both got cataract surgery. His bill was 20 times higher than hers

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Preventive care should be free to patients under the Affordable Care Act, but Elizabeth Melville of Sunapee, NH., was charged $2,185 for a colonoscopy in 2021. Philip Keith/KHN hide caption

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Philip Keith/KHN

Cancer screenings like colonoscopies are supposed to be free. Hers cost $2,185

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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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