My biggest and most frustrating unexpected medical bill was for a colonoscopy. I’m of an age where routine colonoscopies are recommended, and this was my first (and last) one.

My PCP gave me a referral and told me that it would be 100% covered by insurance, so I didn’t expect a bill at all. When I arrived at the colonoscopy clinic, I filled out all the paperwork and gave them my insurance information. I was told I wouldn’t have a co-pay because it was 100% covered.

Then, I got back to the prep area, and a nurse (or someone) came back to ask a few final questions. She asked me several times about my bathroom habits and asked questions for “clarification.” I was honest and I had no reason to lie. This was a routine colonoscopy, and it was costing me nothing.

A month or so later, I got my first bill. I was surprised and annoyed, and I contacted my insurance company.

“Well, you had a diagnostic colonoscopy rather than a routine colonoscopy. That’s why you are responsible for a portion of the bill.”

Huh. Well, okay. I got another bill. This one was much bigger. I nearly died [of surprise]. I’ve got excellent insurance–what used to be called a “cadillac” plan through my partner’s union. I was shocked and contacted insurance again, thinking they didn’t cover any of it. Except, they did. They covered their share, which was a significant percentage of the bill. The bills. Yeah, they kept coming.

When all was said and done, that “free” and “routine” colonoscopy cost me a significant chunk of change out of pocket. The insurance paid a pretty good-sized chunk, too. All because I (stupidly) answered questions to my HCP honestly rather than lying to them. I am never having another one–not because it was so awful (certainly wasn’t pleasant, though) but because I am still paying off the last one.

And to add insult to injury, the clinic never even provided my results to my doctor. It’s been over a year!

For more information about Healthcare Price Transparency, click here. By uploading your photo or video, you agree to our story submission terms.