Northwestern Mutual
Unexpected Health Bill Unexpected Health Bill
< Back to Insights & Ideas

66 Percent of Us Have Had an Unexpected Health Bill in the Past Year

LearnVest •  October 27, 2015 | Your Finances

Visiting the doctor isn’t exactly an enjoyable experience.

But what feels worse? Opening your mail weeks later, only to face a medical bill that you didn’t anticipate.

About two-thirds of American adults—or a whopping 155 million of us—have been confronted by that unpleasant surprise in the past year, according to a Vitals Index survey.

In many cases, that’s because the price tag hadn’t even come up.

While the majority of survey respondents feel out-of-pocket medical costs impact their budgets “seriously” or “very much,” three of out five don’t ask their doctors about the cost of a service they’re about to receive.

Think about that for a moment … Would you buy a smartphone or a sofa without considering the price?

Why approach a medical purchase any differently?

Well, it turns out these cost conversations typically don’t happen for one of three reasons: patients believe their insurance will foot the bill; they don’t think their doctor knows the cost of the procedure; or they aren’t even aware they can ask about the price tag for recommended services.

Besides having a heart-to-heart with your doctor, you can also reduce your chances of an unexpected bill by getting more familiar with your insurance plan.

A good starting point is to confirm the amount of your health insurance deductible (something nearly 25% of respondents couldn’t cite offhand).

And if you need a health insurance refresher, consult our glossary of 12 need-to-know terms—and you’ll be in better shape to tackle this fall’s open enrollment period.

LearnVest logo

LearnVest, Inc. is owned by NM Planning, LLC, a subsidiary of The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Rate This Article