Take the time to kick the tires on your health insurance choices during open enrollment — it could help you reduce the chances of a surprise medical bill.
Over the past year, 20 percent of working Americans have had a problem paying medical bills, according to a survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Many of those stemmed from unexpected bills: For 26 percent, it was a claim their insurer denied, and for 32 percent, a surprise bill from an out-of-network health-care provider.
(The survey polled 2,575 adults in the fall of 2015, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.)
"This is an issue that sophisticated, active consumers can't solve on their own," said Paul Ginsburg, a senior fellow at Brookings Institution.
Surprise medical bills often stem from an interaction with an out-of-network provider that's out of the consumer's control, he said — say, you call 911 and the responding ambulance is out of network. Or you choose an in-network hospital and surgeon for surgery, but the on-duty anesthesiologist is out of network. Or your in-network primary care physician sends your routine bloodwork to an out-of-network lab.