How to protect yourself from surprise medical bills

A new poll from Kaiser Family Foundation says four in 10 consumers got a surprise medical bill in the past year, with 40% over $500.
4:36 | 12/27/19

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Transcript for How to protect yourself from surprise medical bills
It's a beautiful sweater. Now to our "Gma" cover story about surprise meltd bills. A poll from Kizer family foundation saying 40% of the surprise medical bills were more than $500. "Gma" has an important update to the story we aired previously. Kyra, good morning. Reporter: Some of these surprise bills are for huge amounts. $17,000 for a lab test. $50,000 for a stay in the neonatal icu. $70,000 for broken hip surgery. Most of us assume that would be covered by health insurance if you have it, but as we found out in our investigation, that's not calls the case. Tom Saputo was an active snowboarder and his family was devastated when he was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. He needed a lung to survive. It's like drowning. You can't breathe. Reporter: They are saying, they made sure everything was in network. It was always a double check before we had a procedure done. Reporter: But Tom needed an air ambulance to a medical facility where he could receive the transplant. The saputos did it, no questioned asked. How could you even have the -- Wherewithal -- -- Yeah. To concentrate on that when your husband is dying. Reporter: Tom received that transplant, but then came the bill that blindsided them. The transplant, $36,000, was fully covered by their insurance, but the air ambulance that cost $51,000 was not. So we were shocked. Reporter: "Gma" became aware of the saputos' case through Kaiser health news and NPR series. It's the most common complaint in our data base. Reporter: Their insurance covered most of the air ambulance bill even though it was out of network but they say they were told they were still owed $11,000. How are we going to pay this bill? Reporter: The insurer, anthem told "Gma," the costs for his transport for paid in accordance with his benefits plan. After "Gma" contacted the company -- Your account is at a zero balance now -- Reporter: The debt now erased. Air methods saying after that call, we engaged in the appeals process to receive the full payment because Mr. Saputo was extremely cooperative. We were able to provide him a zero balance. Nearly 80% of Americans want legislation to protect patients from surprise medical bills. The president also calling for regulation. They should be given a clear and honest bill up front. Reporter: These are co-sponsors of one of the bipartisan bills before congress that would regulate the why hasn't a bill been passed? Well, we are moving. The process takes awhile. Reporter: Ads criticizing some of the legislation began running earlier this year. They are not influencing you. We're going full force ahead. Reporter: More than half of all ambulance rides are out of network, so we asked specifically about the saputos' case. Why doesn't your legislation cover this? When you deal with ambulance, it involves so many different the ambulance might be private. It might be the local government. So it's very difficult. Clearly it's not working. That's true, but it is a different animal. We're taking on what we can here. Since this investigation first aired, the bills were revised to including air ambulances and reached a deal with the senate health committee supported by the white house, but surprise medical bill regulation was not included in the government funding deal that was passed just last week. First after, great work by you and the "Gma" investigates team. Does medical bill regulation stand a chance? It will be reintroduced more than likely next year, but stand alone regulation is tough to pass. Not everybody has the team or Kyra Phillips at their side. What should you do? We were hounding and companies and made things happen. We can negotiate those bills. Don't just pay it or write a check. Call them up, challenge the bill and work out a deal. I did it with my son when I had to take him to the emergency room. They cut the bill in half, and also find out if your state has laws protecting from surprise medical bills because a lot of states too. Great work. Thank you. T.J., over to you. Turning now to a big

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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