20% get billed after surgery, study says

20% get billed after surgery, study says

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One in five patients may get a surprise medical bill after non-emergency surgeries such as a knee replacement or hysterectomy, according to a new study.

Out of about 350,000 surgeries for patients covered by a nationwide commercial insurer, researchers found 20% received bills for services their insurance didn’t pay for, according to a study published Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA,) a peer-reviewed medical periodical.

The average unexpected charge of about $2,000 can especially hurt vulnerable populations, such as people with more health issues or who had complications after operations, said Dr. Karan Chhabra, the lead author of the University of Michigan study. 

“Even if patients do their homework before they have elective surgery, this study shows they can be at risk of receiving large bills they never expected, from providers they never met or even knew about,” Chhabra said in a press release.

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