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GUEST BLOG: Not A Surprise I Want for My Family, Or Yours

Hi everyone, Hannah here! As always, I am so excited to talk to you all again. This month, we're going to be talking about a topic brought to my attention a few weeks ago—surprise medical billing. A surprise bill can arise when a patient unknowingly receives care from an out-of-network provider in an in-network facility, or in emergency situations when the patient has no ability to select the hospital, care team, or medical transport company. Did you know that nearly 60% of insured Americans have received a surprise medical bill for care they thought was covered by their insurance? Wowsa.

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Cardiovascular patients are particularly susceptible to these bills because of the unexpected and urgent nature of the event and the care needed for recovery. This puts millions of Americans into financial crisis and we have to tell Congress to stop surprise medical billing! This issue hits close to home for so many Americans, even if they have not been directly affected. In emergency situations, patients do not have a choice over how they are transported. At times, patients can be charged up to $30,000 per air ambulance ride, which people are routinely surprise billed for. I couldn’t imagine the extreme financial stress this would put on any family.  

I worry about surprise medical billing in my family since my little sister is a congenital heart defect survivor and we’ve seen our fair share of hospital situations. Having to worry about a surprise medical bill after recently suffering a medical emergency is unjustifiable. Policymakers should create solutions that protect patients from surprise bills in all healthcare settings, including emergency transportation. A surprise bill is that last thing a patient should have to worry about. Eliminating surprise medical billing entirely would save people with employer-provided health insurance approximately $40 billion annually, according to www.washingtonmonthly.com. Like all healthcare costs, surprise medical billing rates have been skyrocketing, we have to do something about this!

Congress: #ProtectPatients & #StopSurpriseBills

When Congress reconvened in 2019, surprise medical billing was at the TOP of the agenda. While everyone agreed it had to stop, no one could agree on how to stop it. We, as rockstar AHA advocates, have to do something about this. If you are not a patient that has been directly affected by surprise billing, be a voice for those who have. I encourage you all to use your voice to stand up against surprise medical bills. This is a real problem, and we must do something about it or the next surprise bill could come to your mailbox.

Have you received a surprise medical bill?

  1. Review the bill carefully and check for any mistakes.
  2. Learn about surprise medical billing and whether or not it affects you.
  3. Discuss the bill with your healthcare providers.
  4. Ask for a payment plan or some form of financial aid.
  5. File an appeal with the insurance company.

The American Heart Association can help you reach out and connect you with your lawmakers- they provide pre-filled tweets, emails, and messages that you can personalize before sending. It’s quick, easy, and makes change happen! Click here to speak up and protect patients around the country from the extenuated financial hardship of surprise medical billing.

❤️ Do you have a story about how surprise medical billing has impacted you or your family? The AHA wants to hear from you! Share your story HERE.

That is all for me this month, everyone! As usual, I am so, so, so thankful to have you all read along! I’ll talk to you all next month!

All my love,

Hannah Walker
AHA Guest Blogger & Youth Advocate

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