Benjamin Chartock and Sarah Schutz

How Do Consumers Respond to Surprise Medical Bills?

Mar. 4, 2019

Today, you often hear stories of patients who visit an in-network hospital and still receive a large medical bill because one or more providers involved in their care was out-of-network. Although this phenomenon of “surprise billing” has become common, no research has examined how consumers respond to surprise bills and alter their health-seeking behavior.

Consumers' Responses to Surprise Medical Bills in Elective Situations

Research Brief
Mar. 4, 2019

A surprise medical bill is a bill from an out-of-network provider that was not expected by or not chosen by the patient.To see whether consumers are more likely to switch hospitals after receiving a surprise bill, Benjamin Chartock and Sarah Schutz, and their co-author Christopher Garmon, analyzed nationwide employer-sponsored health insurance claims for labor and delivery services. Mothers who received a surprise out-of-network bill for their first delivery had 13% greater odds of switching hospitals for their second delivery compared to those who did not get a surprise bill.