Release: New Guide Helps People Avoid, Dispute Unnecessary Medical Bills

Media Contacts

Resource directs patients through complexities of medical billing, empowers them to assert rights

(BOSTON, MA)As health care prices in the United States hit an all-time high and continue to grow, they strain many personal budgets. More than 100 million people in the country now carry some form of medical debt. While the Biden administration is beginning to address medical debt through regulation on things such as predatory medical credit cards, millions of people need immediate help navigating confusing policies, billing processes and a lack of clear communication with patients. To help fill this gap, the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Community Catalyst have co-authored Medical Bills: Everything You Need to Know About Your Rights. 

“Health care in the U.S. is horribly expensive, severely inefficient and people don’t get the care they deserve — all because profits are the priority,” said Quỳnh Chi Nguyễn, associate director for the Center for Community Engagement in Health Innovation at Community Catalyst. “The millions of families carrying medical bills cannot afford to wait. They need to know what to do now. They need to know how to talk to creditors, how to avoid ‘surprise medical bills’ and how to avoid common debt traps, including medical credit cards.”

The user-friendly guide aims to help any person, either with or without health insurance, know their rights to avoid unnecessary billing charges, tackle billing errors and handle debt collectors. The guide covers topics including navigating emergency care, scheduled care at a hospital, federal and state protections against what are known as “surprise medical bills,” and what people can do when faced with unaffordable or illegal medical bills. 

“Medical bills are very confusing and knowing how to read them and use your rights can mean saving hundreds or thousands of dollars,” said Patricia Kelmar, senior director of health care campaigns for U.S. PIRG Education Fund. “The system shouldn’t be and doesn’t need to be this complex. However, it is. We hear from so many people burdened with medical bills, so we want to make sure patients have the information they need.”

The groups are releasing this new guide after thousands of people across the country shared their medical debt experiences with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The comments share much of the same pain: unavoidable and, in some cases illegal, medical bills after someone got sick, hurt or needed essential medical care.

Community Catalyst and the U.S. PIRG Education Fund are among a growing network of local, state and national organizations that are building collective power to ensure that people — not profits — are at the center of decisions that impact their health care.


About U.S. PIRG Education Fund

U.S. PIRG Education Fund is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety or well-being.

About Community Catalyst

Community Catalyst is a leading non-profit national health advocacy organization dedicated to advancing a movement for race equity and health justice. We partner with local, state and national advocates to leverage and build power so all people can influence decisions that affect their health. Health systems will not be accountable to people without a fully engaged and organized community voice. That’s why we work every day to ensure people’s interests are represented wherever important decisions about health and health care are made: in communities, state houses and on Capitol Hill. For more information, visit Follow us on Twitter @CommCatHealth