Thursday, August 24, 2006

Bills, bills, bills

I am just now getting billed for my hospital stay, almost three months after our daughter's birth. The hospital wants you to prepay at least half of the estimated cost, but I refuse to do that. It's a whole lot easier to contest a mistake by witholding your payment than it is to get a refund for paying them too much money in the first place. If it takes this long to get a bill, I can only imagine how long a refund check would take! My out-of-pocket expenses for the delivery, epidural, overnight stay and newborn care totalled $378, not including a $250 yearly deductible. (If I ever get pregnant again, it would be lovely to have it all within one calendar year, so I wouldn't have to pay a year's deductible twice!)

18 comments:

thehomespunheart said...

We have not gotten our bills yet - but I'm jealous of how little you had to pay! I had to pay more than that just to go in and have three shots at the hospital to stop pre-term labor! Yikes!

However, you are right that mistakes abound in these bills and it is much easier to contest if they have not been paid!

Mom2fur said...

Wow, you got a bargain! And look what you got to take home with you, LOL!

Anonymous said...

You make an excellent point about waiting to pay to verify if every charge is correct. I had an emergency visit a couple of months ago and I kept getting bills when my husband's insurance covers all emergencies. I looked into it and found that they were billing me under my old insurance numbers they had on file when I had my son 4 years ago--even though I gave them the correct card when I came in. They sent me nasty letters and said it was going to collection. I can't tell you how many calls I had to make to straighten out their mistake.

Nancy

Christine said...

Isn't it terrible how they bill you? The same thing happened with my last pregnancy, my son was born in February. Thank the Lord for insurance. (and epidurals) :) Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

Years ago I audited hospital bills as a full time job. Over four years and I never came across a completely correct bill, never. There was always a mistake (usually many), somewhere... and usually in the favor of the patient (insurance company side). Only once did I audit a bill where I had to add a HUGE amount to a bill....that time an OR clerk forgot to bill for the supplies in a hip replacement surgery... the patient thought their bill was 'too high' but by the time the audit was complete, the bill was $10,000 HIGHER. Gulp!

Calla Lilly said...

Wow! When we had our daughter 16 years ago, the hospital bill for just me was $17,000! That's not including our daughter's stay in intensive care or the doctors' bills, etc. We were grateful for insurance then! I cannot imagine what it would cost us now, given that our coverage is not as good as it was back then. I am an extreme high risk patient, as you might have gathered. ;)

Meredith said...

Cala Lilly, that's awful! Not that your daughter wasn't worth every penny, though...

The total cost was much, much higher--roughly $6,000, then discounted to the insurance company's negotiated rate, then 90% paid by our insurance. I thank God for our good insurance every month. Without it my husband's diabetic supplies and medicine would break us.

Kathryn said...

I also waited to pay up after my son was born last year. We finally got it all settled about 5 months after he was born. I ended up paying a $20 copay for each ultrasound (I had 6, since he was breech)and a $20 copay when I went in for the original "diagnosis". I estimated that we racked up at least $25,000 of medical expenses during the pregnancy, C-section, etc. Insurance paid everything but those copays, but I did have to make a bunch of phone calls, etc to be sure that the bills were all paid since the hospital did send me bills.

SaraJo said...

Did you request itemized bills for your stay? When my daughter was born 2 1/2 years ago I was billed for room & board, laboratory services, and 'miscellaneous medical services'. Including our $500 deductible, we ended up paying about $1300 out of pocket (no epidural though). Now that we're on a $2,000 deductible plan, you better believe I'll be asking for an itemized bill next time I give birth!

mothersong said...

Be careful what you wish for with the deductibles. The year I had my 13 year old son, I bemoaned the yearly deductible, then ended up having to have my gall bladder out when he was three months old.

On the other hand, we only had to pay $150 for that surgery, since we had met the deductible with the birth! :-)

Lindsey said...

Oh this brings back memories. When pregnant with our first child, I had to have a scheduled csection due to her being breech. I went in for my preassessment the day before the csection and part of the "tour" was meeting with the financial people. They asked for a check for $500, which was our deductible at the time (ha! its $1200 now ei yi yi!)

I remember crying and telling the gal that I had no clue we'd have to pay upfront, we had NO money, and what were they going to do, deny her delivery and make her stay in for another 9 months while we found the $500?

In the end, we didn't have to pay the full $500, our insurance paid more than we thought!!!! whahooooo!!!

Like you said, refunds can take a LONG time to process. Sometimes I've wondered if you couldn't get a bill collector to act on your behalf while trying to get a refund process. Sure enough knows that it works the other way around!

Elena said...

If I ever get pregnant again, it would be lovely to have it all within one calendar year, so I wouldn't have to pay a year's deductible twice!)

I thought about that myself many times. That only leaves January, February and March for conceiving for a baby born in October, November or December! So a Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas baby!! : )

Taleyna said...

Believe me I thought that about the deductibe with my DD (January birthday). My son came along 5 years later and for a while we were worried we would have to pay 3 deductibles. Became pg while still on student insurance so deductible #1, switched to DH's new faculty insurance deductible #2, his due date was in January which would have been deductible #3. Thank goodness he came a little early!

Jordana said...

I never thought about it, but all my babies have been within the same calendar year. I never know what or who a new year will bring.

Between insurance and hospital billing practices, it took over a year of phone calls before an accident my son had when he was 17 months was all cleared up and paid for. It was really crazy. Every month I'd haul out the file, go through the new notices we'd received, make another round of phone calls back and forth between doctors, hospital and insurance and hope that soon it would all be dealt with.

So three months isn't too bad.

Calla Lilly said...

My sister charged one of her babies to Visa!

Meredith said...

Jordana, my son had a bill from the same hospital (I think) that took over a year to resolve. I ultimately complained so much that the office of internal affairs opened an investigation! The billing practices there were so, so crazy.

MicheleinNZ said...

Boy, am I glad for socialised medicine! I don't pay a dime for any maternity care, except $20 for ultrasounds, which are considered 'non-essential'. So that's all the midwifery care, hospital stay, diapers for the baby while in hospital, everything. Also includes 10 home visits from the midwife postnatally. And medical care for children under 6 is free, too. It's great to not have to worry about taking the kids to the doctor 'just in case' because if we had to pay for each visit I'd probably think twice and be afraid that I'd miss something important.

Of course, my husband reminds me that we still pay for it in our taxes, but it seems much easier to bare than actually out of pocket!

Wendy said...

I know exactly what you mean..it always takes us forever before we have seen all of the bills. That can be a little frustrating.