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Taking surprise medical bills to court

December 21, 2018 / Julie Appleby

Joaquin Lopez had emergency gallbladder surgery after rushing to an ER last year. He has been haggling with Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis over what he owes ever since. The 37-year-old college professor was hit with a nearly $8,000 bill from the out-of-network hospital—that was after the $11,000 he and his insurer had already paid. Consumers are increasingly vulnerable to such so-called balance bills, which represent the difference between what insurers pay and hospitals’ list prices. List prices can be several times higher than what they accept from Medicare or in-network insurers.