Monday, March 15, 2010

Having a Baby is Expensive (But Obviously Worth It).

***Before I start venting about our hospital bills, this is just a friendly reminder that Week 3 of 12 Weeks to Better Photography goes up tomorrow. You can view the week's lesson on White Balance here . Let me tell you, mastering white balance was always intimidating for me, but this lesson really helped, and I can already tell it's going to make a HUGE difference in photography in general! ***

We had (and still have) health insurance when Lizzy was born. Still, after insurance paid their portion, we owe about $5000--and that's for a normal, uncomplicated vaginal delivery, after the doctor was already paid. A portion of this is the anesthesiologist's bill, but the majority of it is the hospital bill for myself and Lizzy. After seeing this, I am SO glad that we only stayed one night instead of the three that they were pushing for!

Anyway, I called to make payment arrangements with the hospital. We fully intend to make a payment every month, but it just can't be a huge payment because we're working on one income, and things are tight as it is. My conversation with the billing lady went like this:

Me: Hi, I'd like to set up a payment plan for my bill. I can pay you Y amount per month.
Billing Lady: Oh, I'm sorry, you'll have to pay at least Z per month.
Me: I can't afford to pay Z per month. We would literally have no money for food. Y per month is actually really pushing it for us as it is.
Billing Lady: Well, there's really no point in you even sending a check unless it's going to be for Z. If it isn't for Z, we'll send you to collections.
Me: Well, you can't squeeze blood out of a turnip. I'm sure if you send us to collections, you'll get even less than Y.
Billing Lady: Well, I know going to collections might sound like a good idea now, but then your credit will be shot forever.
Me: Yeah, but we literally cannot afford to pay Z, so I don't know what alternative we have.

I'm sorry, but that whole conversation really ticked me off. Rude, rude, rude. As if anyone actually WANTS to be sent to collections. And that's not even the worst of it. See, I got my hospital bill. But JUSTIN got Lizzy's hospital bill. And the hospital will not consolidate the bills together.Which means that actually, they want us to pay Z amount not once, but TWICE each month. Lovely.

After talking to someone else, I learned that we can apply for a financial assistance program, which would lower the monthly payment based on our income. So, I'm filling out the paperwork for that,  and hoping that we qualify. This is so frustrating.


  1. $5K?! Yikes. And I always had the understanding that with medical payments, as long as you pay something each month, no matter how small, it can't be sent to collections. Maybe that's just a Missouri thing?

  2. I also thought that regardless of what you paid each month, as long as you paid it on time, that you couldn't be sent to collections. I would call back and ask to speak to someone else! That is awful.

    We did not have maternity insurance (who knew it was a one year waiting list!) but I had my health insurance. Since I had an emergency C-section, all of mine was covered, except the pediatrician, anesthesia, and part of Brayden's stay. I think we will be checking into maternity insurance for number 2...just in case.

    Hope you get it all worked out!

  3. Oh no! Prayers that everything works out are coming your way! I can't imagine how frustrating that is!

  4. I don't understand health insurance intricacies at all! Hope it all works out for you guys.

  5. Okay, we went through something similar so let me tell you what happened to us.

    We also qualified for financial assistance. We received a discount for paying a certain percentage of what we owed ($4,000-close to your 5).

    We dealt with some crappy people, but when they weren't getting paid and we got sent to collections Byron told them we do not want to default on our payment, we want to pay the hospital for their services.

    When they realized we were not a family that would be dodging collections calls and they would get something from us they were much more willing to give us a discount and help signing up from income based reduction programs.

    And I think the MN poverty guideline is lower than Oregon, and we were pretty far above it, so I'm confident you'll qualify for something. Good luck!

  6. Were you not aware what your coverage was before you went into the hospital?

    I would definitely give customer service a call again and try to set up a payment plan. In fact, it should say on your bill how to set one up!

  7. Ugh, that IS super frustrating. My mom (when she had me) and my sister (when she had her first) actually used hospitals further away than the closest hospital just so they could work out payment plans. Thankfully, they've built a hospital within 10 minutes of our house that's supposed to be good about payment plans.

    The last time I visited my doc, I asked them how much just their end was, so I could get an idea. She told me it was either $X up front, or they could work out a payment plan that had to be paid by week 35. Um.. if I don't have the money to pay you when I find out up front, somewhere around week 6-8, I'm NOT going to magically make it appear by week 35!! Some things I just don't think I'll ever understand...

  8. Oh yuck! I cannot believe they wouldn't work with you more when you were willing to make regular payments on your bill!

    We are fortunate that, because Hubby's work is for a global company, they have really good insurance coverage for maternity and labor and delivery. Otherwise, we'd be up the creek without a paddle because there's no way we could afford that much even now, much less when we have only one income!

  9. Wow. I'm so sorry. But, I agree with the pp. Call back. If you don't get what you want ask for a supervisor. If they don't give you what you want ask for THEIR supervisor. I guarantee they'll work with you better than the first one did! Good luck!

  10. I am so sorry you have to go through this - I hate how they slap you with the bill so soon after delivery. I hope you find a better resolution.

  11. I agree with Lisa! I hope everything gets worked out.

  12. Again, I totally feel you. I'm glad you are able to work something out!

  13. I must say... This scares me even more! I just found out last week that our insurance doesn't cover every now. We will be paying $6000 out of pocket! I know that this little one it totally worth it, but it's scary to think that a hospital won't work with you!

    I'm sorry about the conversation you had on the phone with the billing lady. I can see how frustrating that may be! I know god is totally in cotrol and that He tells us not to worry... But this is something I'm REALLY worried about.

  14. Wow, excuse my French but that woman sounds like a BIOTCH! I could not have handled that conversation.

    Our hospital bill for our first son was $800. $400 for me and $400 for my son. They consolidated the bill and let us pay whatever we wanted each month. All they said was we needed to have the balance paid in full in one year!

    I really hate health insurance. I mean, I'm glad I have it otherwise we would be seriously be in the poor house but when you live on one income it's just tough. I just think health insurance premiums are too high for what you STILL have to pay out of pocket.

    Hope you get it figured out. Money woes are stressful :(

  15. I cannot believe how awful that lady was to you! Hello, it's not like you're trying to get out of paying the bill, you just want to pay what you CAN afford so they can eventually get all their money! Ugh! I hope that everything gets worked out asap and that you qualify for that program!

  16. Everything is free in Spain,you pay your taxes everymonth, but then you dont have to pay aby hospital bill or insurance, not for the labour, not for anything, and it doesnt matter if is a regular labour or you need cesarea, even if you've got a terminal cancer or just a broken leg.

  17. I can't believe your bill after insurance is 5k! Something seems wrong with that, but maybe it majorly varies depending on your insurance?

  18. what a frustrating conversation! I agree, you can't squeeze blood from a turnip. Hopefully that financial aid program will help out. That's just dumb.

  19. Wow! What a horrible customer service representative! I can't believe she said that! Praying it works out!

  20. People should be imprisoned for this country's healthcare system.

  21. Ugg sorry you have to go through that! What a pain! :-(

  22. That is total bull pay what you can. I had the same deal they would scare me into paying a higher amount and if i didn't it would ruin my credit. No it wont they dont put you into collections and ruin your credit. I think the only ones that do that are school loans.

    I hate health insurance companies, after paying a high monthly and a high deductible there is still a high bill afterwards.


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