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Study finds surprise medical bills lead new mothers to switch hospitals—highlighting a bigger problem

March 07, 2019 / Matt Kuhrt

Having an in-network obstetrician doesn’t guarantee new mothers won’t receive surprise medical bills after their babies are born. A study published in the March issue of Health Affairs found that 11% of mothers got an unwelcome surprise from the hospital billing department following their first delivery.  And when new mothers encountered unexpected bills from out-of-network providers following their deliveries, they were significantly more likely to choose a different hospital for subsequent births, according to the study. In fact, receiving such a bill raised the odds of them switching to another hospital for subsequent deliveries by 13% compared to mothers whose bills all came from in-network physicians. The study’s results also found that switching hospitals cut the relative risk of a second surprise bill by 56%.