Medical Bill Horror Stories

By: Samantha Seaman | Updated October 3, 2019

We share five patients outrageous medical bills in order to shed light on The United States unaffordable health care prices — and they’re horrifying.

If the United States healthcare sector had its own economy, it’d be the world’s fifth-largest economy…

Which is odd seeing that the U.S. is ranked 37th in healthcare systems, and placed last among the top 11 industrialized countries in overall healthcare. 

Somethings not adding up here…
Why is the U.S. the most expensive place in the world to get sick?

It’s so bad, when I hear something crack I hope it’s my iPhone and not a bone… …Anything to avoid medical debt.

When people hear “medical debt” their mind usually jumps to a catastrophic illness. But in reality almost all Americans are trapped, digging their way out of medical debt.

Health Affairs found that one in six Americans have past-due health care bills on their credit report, a debt of $81 billion total. More than half of those bills amount to less than $600 each! 

And this shouldn’t come as a surprise to you… Just look below at the outrage around medical bills that people are voicing on Twitter: 

This isn’t just an issue for the uninsured… 

“High cost sharing and high deductibles are the first reason why people have medical bills they can’t afford to pay, even though they have insurance, and there are bills from getting out-of-network care without knowing it.” said Karen Pollitz, senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation. 

It’s not uncommon for the insured who visit an in-network hospital to still receive big bills from being treated by out-of-network providers… Resulting in more surprise charges. 

In fact, health insurance has fallen notoriously short of protecting Americans from financial insecurity caused by healthcare spending.

Amy Konsky learned the hard way that health insurance does not guarantee financial security. Ms. Konsky, a 26-year-old Web Technologist from Florida., ruptured her eardrum in 2017. After two failed surgeries to save her hearing, she racked up thousands of dollars in medical bills. “After two operations on my ear that weren’t successful, I’ve paid over 10k in medical bills. And that was with insurance. Without it… forget it, i’d be deaf or in debt for the rest of my life.” 

Medical problems lead to financial sacrifices… 

When medical bills begin to pile up, we are lead to make difficult financial decisions, such as needing to cut back on food, clothing, or other basic household items…

A survey conducted by The New York Times concluded that… 


“Among those who reported having problems paying their bills despite having insurance, 63 percent said they used up all or most of their savings; 42 percent took on an extra job or more work hours; 14 percent moved or took in roommates; and 11 percent turned to charity.”


Accumulating medical debt is such a feared concept, we avoid it like the plague…

…even writing off medical care completely. 

Nearly one in three Americans say that they have delayed getting care because they were worried about the cost.  

Deaths have been reported when patients could not afford enough insulin, a once-cheap drug.

Our healthcare system is doing opposite of what it’s supposed to do, leaving people more sick than ever.


Without further ado, here are 5 medical bill horror stories shared by American citizens on Reddit: 


1. Paid $2,700 for a “Surgical Assistant” I didn’t even know was at my surgery

I had a hernia repair done and after meeting with the surgeon and my insurance, I was told that my surgery was going to be completely paid for by the insurance (as I had already met my deductible). 

A couple of weeks after the surgery, everything got billed out and just like I was told, I owed nothing. However, a couple of days ago I saw that a new claim popped up and that I owed $2,702 for a service I didn’t know what it was.

I checked my mail and there was a letter from American Surgical Professionals saying that it was determined that surgical assistant services were necessary to the procedure. The letter also said that as a “courtesy” to me they bill my insurance carrier first, and surprise, they said they weren’t paying, so I have to incur all costs.

I was completely out and had zero control over what was going on during my surgery.


2. Filing for bankruptcy for a rare blood disorder

My Fiance spent all of August in the hospital with a rare blood disorder. He didn’t have insurance and I was just going to add him to my plan then… Big, big mistake but we can’t change the past.

When he was first admitted to the hospital the financial person told him he made too much for any assistance and that was it. Now the bills are coming in and it’s totaling $150,000! He set up an appointment with the MnSure person yesterday to see if could qualify for any assistance because he was out of work that whole time with no income. She still said he made too much money to qualify for anything.

We’re not sure what to do next. His aunt mentioned filling for bankruptcy but I’m not sure what that would mean for us and our future. I feel like there should be other resources out there but I’m not having any luck.


3. 12k medical bill knocked me to the floor

After mentioning allergies to my doctor, he recommended a scan of some sort. I didn’t understand, but went ahead with a blood draw.

He checked my insurance information and said it’d be covered. Turns out it wasn’t and I just got the bill. Nearly $12,000!!! 

I am reeling, furious, and scared. I literally fell to the ground in anguish. I’m unsure what recourse I have. I’ve talked with my father whose good friend is an attorney specializing in medical insurance claims.

Please help me navigate this horrible event.


4. Skipping meals to pay this…

I’m a 22 year old father, sole income for my fiancé and our son. I don’t have insurance, haven’t had it since I turned 18.

I had to see a urologist roughly 4 years ago, and now I’ve got about 2K in medical bills that I can’t afford, and a credit agency is hounding me to pay it. I can’t. I can’t even make payments on it. We live in a garage that’s been converted into an apartment and I drive a car worth 1 grand. How should I approach this?

Paying the debt isn’t an option, I’m already skipping meals to save money. My fiancé doesn’t know how bad off we are, and I’d like to keep it that way.


5. Christmas $11k hospital visit

I live in New York and I’m on medicaid. While home for the holidays in Texas last Christmas, had to go to the ER for an ovarian cyst and gallbladder attack. Merry Christmas to me.

I got a bill in the mail 2 weeks ago for the visit  $11,613.72. I called the hospital almost immediately, and they told me that my insurance denied the claim twice. I’m guessing it’s because I was out of state? Guess it’s totally my fault that my body fucked me over while not in NYC. I’ve reached out to my insurance company as well but they have yet to get back to me. I think getting any aid from them could be a lost cause.

I currently only have $1,820 in savings (the starving artist life becomes less and less appealing as I get older). Anyone have any advice as to how I could go about this? Any and all advice is appreciated – I’m really desperate.


Medical costs will continue to grow…

Until these issues are addressed, medical costs will continue to increase.

According to experts, costs will continue to rise, exposing more and more Americans to the risk of debt. We all have a part to play in this serious issue.

Are you a victim of the healthcare system? Send us your medical bill horror story HERE to get heard! 

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