How to Appeal an Unexpected Medical Bill

You may receive a bill because your insurance company denied a claim—but that doesn’t mean you have to pay it.

older man with stethoscope to his chest, looking at medical bill in shock
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Getting a bill for a medical procedure or an appointment you thought your insurance would cover can throw you for a loop. But if you think the bill was sent to you in error or you believe the amount listed is wrong, you can—and should—fight back. First, though, you need to know common mistakes to look for, as well as what your insurance plan does and does not cover.

Start by reviewing your insurer’s explanation of benefits. Was the service in network—that is, from providers that have typically agreed to reduced reimbursement from your insurance company? Next, call your insurer and ask the insurance representative to explain why the claim was denied (in part or in full), why certain services weren’t covered and what you need to do to fix it.

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Rivan V. Stinson
Ex-staff writer, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Rivan joined Kiplinger on Leap Day 2016 as a reporter for Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. A Michigan native, she graduated from the University of Michigan in 2014 and from there freelanced as a local copy editor and proofreader, and served as a research assistant to a local Detroit journalist. Her work has been featured in the Ann Arbor Observer and Sage Business Researcher. She is currently assistant editor, personal finance at The Washington Post.