57% of Americans have been surprised by a medical bill, most say insurers are to blame

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Fifty-seven percent of Americans say they've received a surprise medical bill they thought would be covered by insurance, according to a recent survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago.

NORC polled 1,002 individuals from a nationally representative sample of Americans using the AmeriSpeak Panel, a probability-based panel NORC designed to be representative of the U.S. household population.

Of the respondents who said they'd been surprised by a medical bill, here are the five most common services they were charged for:

  1. Physician services: 53 percent
  2. Laboratory tests: 51 percent
  3. Hospitals or other healthcare facility charges: 43 percent
  4. Imaging: 35 percent
  5. Prescription drugs: 29 percent

The survey also asked respondents which groups — payers, hospitals, physicians or pharmacies — are most responsible for surprise medical bills. Here's the proportion of respondents that said each group was "very" or "somewhat" responsible:

  • Payers: 86 percent  
  • Hospitals: 82 percent
  • Physicians: 71 percent
  • Pharmacies: 64 percent

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