This Healthcare Mistake Cost Me $400 -- and It Was Completely Avoidable

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.


  • When you have health insurance, it's important to know what your coverage looks like.
  • Check if your providers are in-network, or you might get charged more than you're expecting.

I've kicked myself many times over for this blunder.

A few years back, I needed some blood work to follow up on a health condition I've had for a while. It was a routine appointment -- one I'd done many times. But while that lab test had always been free in the past, this time it cost me $400. Here's why.

A big healthcare mistake

When you have health insurance, you have to follow your plan's rules. That means using in-network providers if your plan won't pick up the tab for out-of-network providers.

The problem, though, is that your provider list can change from year to year. When this incident happened, I'd just received a new insurance card from the same company and figured the only change was the new number on my card. I didn't realize that my in-network lab coverage had changed.

As such, when I went to follow up on the blood work prescription my doctor had given me, I headed to the lab I was used to using. I didn't realize that lab was no longer in-network and I needed to visit the lab down the road instead.

Long story short, because I used the wrong lab, I had to pay for my test. And instead of having that service covered in full, I had to pay $400.

Lesson learned

It's easy to assume the providers you're used to will remain in network for as long as you have your insurance coverage. But that's not guaranteed. That's why it's a good idea to confirm your coverage at the start of each year. Had I taken that step, I'd have an extra $400 in my bank account.

Thankfully, I budget a fair amount of money for healthcare on a monthly basis, so having to spend $400 on a lab test wasn't a huge hardship for me. To be clear, it's more than what I normally spend for my tests, but it's not like I'd budgeted $0 and went from that to a $400 charge.

Still, what frustrates me is that, while some medical bills are just plain unavoidable, this wasn't one of them. Had I taken a few minutes to do my research, I would've realized that a small change would've saved me a bundle.

Nowadays, I don't make any assumptions about my insurance. Rather, I'll call and verify information when I need it, even if that means waiting on hold for a bit to speak to a live person.

I also make a point to put a little extra money into my flexible spending account (FSA). That way, if surprise medical bills pop up, I have added funds to cover them. And if I overfund my FSA (which has happened), I can pivot and stock up on healthcare supplies to spend down my funds instead of giving them up.

If you can't remember when you last verified your insurance coverage, it's a good idea to carve out some time to get the right information. It could save you hundreds of dollars on a single visit.

Alert: highest cash back card we've seen now has 0% intro APR until nearly 2025

If you're using the wrong credit or debit card, it could be costing you serious money. Our experts love this top pick, which features a 0% intro APR for 15 months, an insane cash back rate of up to 5%, and all somehow for no annual fee. 

In fact, this card is so good that our experts even use it personally. Click here to read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes. 

Read our free review

Our Research Expert

Related Articles

View All Articles Learn More Link Arrow