Study: 1 In 5 Patients Gets a Surprise Medical Bill After Surgery

With two bills up for debate in the house this week aiming to stop surprise billing, research finds the average surprise bill post-surgery exceeds $2,000.
Research finds 20% of patients got hit with surprise bills after elective surgeries, most often coming from either anesthesiologists or surgical assistants. Source: FangXiaNuo

Two bills up for debate and revision in the House this week aim to stop surprise medical billing — when patients are billed for services their insurance won't cover. New research reveals just how common surprise billing is after an elective surgery, like a knee replacement or hysterectomy.

Tracking data from almost 350,000 patients with a large commercial insurer, the researchers found more than 20% were hit with an unpaid balance, according. The average bill was over $2,000. The researchers didn't have the actual bills received by patients, so they calculated what health care providers could bill based on claims data: unexpected out-of-network charges minus average costs insurance would pay.

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