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I Pushed Back On A Medical Bill And This Is What I Learned

Kelley C. Long
7 min readMay 5, 2021

Statistics vary, but one study claims that 40 percent of bankruptcies are due to medical bills. A big part of this is the fact that they are confusing and intimidating, and people rarely dispute them despite many bills being negotiable. So when I was faced with large medical bills due to an issue that was missed by two medical professionals before I was diagnosed, I decided to fight back.

Here’s what I learned about the whole process, which has also lead me to being a better healthcare consumer in general.

The back story

I have a genetic condition that puts me at an extremely higher risk of blood clots than the average person, so when I experienced a weird pain in my calf a couple days after a long flight, I checked into the closest ER. That’s the only place to go when you think you have a blood clot, at least if you don’t have an established relationship with a hematologist. A radiologist performed a deep vein ultrasound and found nothing. I was released with no diagnosis and ibuprofen for the pain.

A couple weeks later, the pain had spread with visible swelling, so I visited my primary care physician, who diagnosed me with swelling of the veins. No treatment, just avoid inflammation. Four weeks later, my leg was swollen and I could hardly walk. I decided I needed a better answer.

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You have to be your own advocate

An ancillary lesson here is that you sometimes have to push back if you suspect your healthcare providers might be missing something. In this case, anytime I claimed I thought I had a blood clot, I was told to go to the ER, but the ER would only scan my deep veins, which is where the real risk is — the medical system is often just CYA, which means if you’re not really at risk of dying, they’re not as worried about figuring things out.

So I went around the system by calling a varicose vein clinic, where I knew they’d give me a complete leg ultrasound. When the vascular doctor called her assistant in to watch as she got started, I knew I’d done the right thing. She found that both of my secondary veins were almost completely clotted from end to end. I was…

Kelley C. Long

CFP & CPA writing about money & how it fits into life based on my work with everyday people as a financial coach.