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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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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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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