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In Year 6, ɫƬHealth News-NPR’s ‘Bill of the Month’ Helps Patients in a Changing System
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In Year 6, ɫƬHealth News-NPR’s ‘Bill of the Month’ Helps Patients in a Changing System

In 2023, our nationwide reporting team has been hard at work on a holiday gift to you: a packet of advice for navigating the labyrinthine American medical system.

In the sixth year of ɫƬHealth News-NPR’s “Bill of the Month” series, readers shared more than 750 tales of medical billing problems, contributing to our ongoing effort to investigate the financial consequences of becoming sick or injured in the United States — and empower patients to advocate for themselves.

Reporters analyzed more than $730,000 in charges, including more than $215,000 owed by 12 patients and their families.

The investigations were cited by decision-makers on Capitol Hill and at the White House. Last summer, the Biden administration , such as by targeting a loophole that has allowed health providers to evade the federal surprise-billing law — a loophole identified by “Bill of the Month.”

More changes are on Washington’s agenda next year; federal regulators are expected to develop a Biden administration plan to bar medical debt from affecting credit scores. But as this important project has shown since its start in 2018, patients are often their own best advocates.

“If I’m able to push back a little bit against this massive system, well, hey, maybe other people can, too,” said Jered Gebel of Alaska, who fought back against disparities and outright errors in charges for his wife’s chemotherapy. “And who knows, maybe eventually health care prices can come down.”

Check out this year’s stories below to learn more about how you can protect yourself and your loved ones from a big, unexpected, or downright wrong bill.

From all of us at “Bill of the Month,” happy holidays — and, when in doubt, don’t pay the bill.

Bill of the Month is a crowdsourced investigation by ɫƬHealth News and that dissects and explains medical bills. Do you have an interesting medical bill you want to share with us? !