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Bill Of The Month

Paying It Forward: ‘Bill Of The Month’ Series, A Vital Toolkit For Patients, Wraps Year 2

In 2018, KHN and NPR launched “Bill of the Month,” a crowdsourced investigation in which we dissect, investigate and explain medical bills you send us. In telling the story behind one patient’s bill each month, our goal is to understand the genesis of the often exorbitant and baffling charges that pervade the American medical system.

This year, we’ve delved into patients’ predicaments from pricey treatments for cat bites and snakebites, to the crippling costs of medical gear ($882 for a knee brace) and high-priced high tech (a $540,842 bill for dialysis, $4,836 for laughing gas during childbirth).

The lessons learned each month help “pay it forward” ― arming future health system pilgrims with the tools they need to avoid surprises or fight back against unfair charges. KHN assembled a user-friendly toolkit to help patients understand some of the ins and outs of medical billing, what to do if you receive a surprise medical bill and things to keep in mind before getting medical care.

Choosing from thousands of reader submissions, we examine each case at, in print and on NPR’s “Morning Edition” or “All Things Considered,” where you can hear the voices of the patients affected. You can also catch segments on “CBS This Morning.”

Take a spin through our coverage and consider sharing your own medical-billing horror stories. Here’s to a wiser, healthier and wealthier – with more money staying in patients’ pockets ⁠— new year for all our readers.

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