Stages of Grief of Paying Medical Bills


Getting medical bills in the mail is always scary, no matter what. You find yourself wondering what in the world this doctor could still have to charge you for, after it seems like you’ve already paid and arm and a leg. (Pun intended.) If you are experiencing stages of grief while reading medical bills… you aren’t alone. It begins as you’re leaving the hospital, after spending an hour getting an MRI.

1. You’re already annoyed that you just spent your lunch hour in a tube, lying perfectly still to the sounds of what can only be described as MRI Techno Tunes. Or would that be considered dub step?
2. You think of all the things you could buy with that $60 co-pay you paid. What even is a co-pay anyway?
3. You bitterly realize you’ll need to eat Ramen noodles this week for dinner if you want to also fill up your gas tank.
4. You drive home feeling sad and a little taken advantage of, so you call your mom to complain about high health costs… you know… like an adult.
Fast-forward three months….
5. You check your mail hoping for a card from your grandma or at least a catalogue to flip through.
6. Nope, instead you’re gifted with an ominous looking letter from your area hospital.
7. Look at this really nice quality envelope… I bet if they cut costs on printing they wouldn’t have to charge so much.
8. You hesitantly open the envelope, hoping it’s a “Thank You” letter for choosing them for your MRI.
9. Incorrect, it is a bill.
10. Didn’t I already pay for this? WAIT… AM I PAYING FOR THIS PAPER?
11. Choke on your own breath while your dog looks at you concerned.
12. $1,300 dollars?!
13. You have to live on the streets.
14. You have to sell your car. high health costs
15. Why do you even have insurance?
16. This cannot possibly be correct.
17. This bill must have been meant for someone else; some other person by the same name as you with the same Social Security number and address.
18. Anger sets in. You’re blinded by rage.
19. Didn’t I read something about how price transparency helps lower health costs?
20. Who can you call to complain to about this?
21. Ghostbusters seems like the obvious choice, but ultimately ineffective.
22. AH-HA! You have found an 800 number to call.
23. You feel sorry for the wrath that is about to be unleashed on this poor unsuspecting victim.
24. Wait; are you not calling the hospital? What is this company you’ve never heard of?
25. “How many buttons do I have to press to talk to a human?”
26. Success!  You have trudged through the robot phone tree to speak with an actual live being.
27. Next time I’m just going to WebMD myself and call it a day.
28. Who is this foreign person you’re speaking with? “Did I not Press 1 for English?”
29. Why would your hospital hire a billing company that is not based in America?
31. You finally learn that your insurance company only covered part of the cost for your MRI and THIS heartbreaking bill is what you’re now responsible for paying.
32. Your knee doesn’t even hurt anymore… but your wallet does.
33. There is a good chance you’re going to have a heart attack right now.
34. You’ll probably need another MRI if you do actually go into cardiac arrest though.
35. Couldn’t there have been a cheaper way for all of this to go down?
36. Oh wait, you could have saved 50% if you had just paid out-of-pocket and booked your MRI through Save On Medical?
37. “Now you tell me.”