Research Briefs

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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. In our new study in Health Affairs, we investigate how mothers respond to receiving a surprise medical bill after delivering their first child. We find that patients respond to surprise medical bills the same way they respond to bad meals at restaurants: by switching to another facility the next time they need 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.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


Surprise medical bills, labor and delivery, consumer response

Citation For This Study

Chartock, B., Garmon, C., & Schutz, S. (2019). Consumers’ Responses To Surprise Medical Bills In Elective Situations. Health Affairs, 38(3), 425-430.



Date Posted: 29 March 2019