Fast Facts

Fast Facts

Unfortunately, surprise medical bills can happen to anyone—and in a variety of settings. While we don’t yet have all the data we would want to fully grasp this issue, here are some fast facts to better understand surprise medical bills.

Unexpected medical bills, including surprise medical bills, lead the list of expenses most Americans fear they would not be able to afford. Two-thirds are either “very worried” (38 percent) or “somewhat worried” (29 percent) about being able to afford their own or a family member’s unexpected medical bills. Learn more here.

Nearly eight in ten people (78%), including majorities of partisans, support legislation to protect patients from paying the cost of care not covered by their insurance when they receive care from a provider or hospital who is not in their network. A majority of the public (57%) continue to support this legislation even after hearing an opposing argument that this legislation would lead to doctors and hospitals being paid less. Learn more here.

Millions of emergency visits and hospital stays put people at risk of receiving a surprise medical bill. For people in large employer plans, 18% of all emergency visits and 16% of in-network hospital stays had at least one out-of-network charge associated with the care in 2017, leaving patients at risk for surprise medical bills. Learn more here.

The specialties with the most out-of-network claims are anesthesiology (16%), primary care (13%), emergency medicine (11%), and radiology (8%). Learn more here and here.

While more than half of states have at least some protections against surprise medical bills, only 13 states have adopted a comprehensive approach. States across the country have taken unique approaches to addressing surprise medical bills. Learn more here.

Federal protections are critical to ensuring that all patients are protected from surprise bills. There are at least two major active proposals with bipartisan support—including one in the U.S. Senate and one in the U.S. House of Representatives—that have been passed out of their respective committees. Although the goals are similar in these bills, the details vary. Learn more here.