NPR-Kaiser Health News Bill Of The MonthBill of the Month is a crowdsourced project by NPR and Kaiser Health News that investigates and explains real-life medical bills.
Bill Of The Month
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
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
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
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
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
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
A hospital offered a payment plan for baby's NICU stay — $45,843 a month for a year
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
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
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
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
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
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