Nearly half of all Americans have to contend with a surprise medical bill at some point and for Bill, he was shocked when he charged $650,000 dollars for an emergency back surgery.
Bill tells The Doctors he was experiencing severe back pain and was told he needed immediate surgery or he risked being paralyzed. His surgery was successful, but he was charged $650,000 dollars for the procedure. He says the cost of the surgery was never discussed with him prior to having it. Afterward, he was initially told by his insurance company that the surgery was not medically necessary and they would not be covering it.
Orthopedic spine surgeon Dr. Hooman Melamed weighs in on Bill's case and says he feels Bill did need the emergency surgery and feels the insurance company denying him coverage is "ridiculously outrageous." He says, unfortunately, it is more and more common for insurance companies to deny coverage for procedures like Bill's.
Johns Hopkins surgeon Dr. Marty Makary, who authored "The Price We Pay," calls Bill's case a "disgrace" and feels the insurance company should forgive his entire bill and apologize to him for the ordeal.
The Doctors ask how patients can deal with a surprise or large medical bill and Dr. Makary suggests using some of the following tips from restoringmedicine.org:
- Ask for an itemized bill
- Find the fair market price
- Call your insurance company
- Contact the hospital’s financial aid office
- Contact your doctor
With the help of a patient advocacy group, Bill was able to significantly reduce the charge for his surgery. For more resources on bill patient advocacy visit: