@dyasny you'll still sometimes get billed because while the hospital is in network, the anesthesiologist isn't. There are some regulations to prevent this now, but it can still be a mess and a pain in the ass to deal with even if you do prevail. That's the problem with US healthcare. Even if you have insurance, and even if you do everything the right way, when you have a major medical emergency you are still going to:
a. get big bills (the 10% that is your share of the inflated bill they send to the insurance) and probably have to go bankrupt
b. spend the equivalent of a second part time job calling insurance companies and appealing decisions to avoid getting billed for shit you shouldn't have been.
I'm seriously considering just going off insurance and paying out of pocket for routine stuff. I suspect I'd save money paying the uninsured rate with doctors, if I didn't have premiums to pay.
Then for real catastrophes I'd either get simple catastrophic insurance, or just move back to Australia if I got cancer.
Basically medical insurance for routine stuff is like getting extended warranties at Best Buy. Best Buy always makes money on those and you always lose, in the long run. To conflate the two types of insurance (routine vs major medical emergency) is a bit silly and confuses the argument.
For example, if I get the flu and go to urgent care and pay a $50 copay, I'd bet that is the same amount that insurance has negotiated with the urgent care location. I think I'm getting a deal, but really I'm paying the full cost. All I'm paying the insurance for is them negotiating the price down to something reasonable.
But fundamentally the real reason US healthcare is too expensive is because the govt doesn't fix prices. If they did that, like the rest of the world does, even private insurance and medical care would be affordable.
There's a reason Breaking Bad exists.