It's no secret that the healthcare system in this country is in dire straits. If you can afford health insurance, there's a good chance you wouldn't be able to actually pay for care in the event of a major health crisis or event. You're spending several hundreds dollars a month, even thousands for some families, for the privilege of having insurance that should (in theory) take the stress out of having to seek medical care. And then, something happens (pregnancy or childbirth, for example), and you're still on the hook for thousands and thousands of dollars in co-pays, co-insurance, and bills that your insurance decided not to pay. It's incredibly frustrating, and it's no wonder medical debt is one of the leading causes of bankruptcy among American families!
Simon Haeder, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science in the John D. Rockefeller IV School of Policy & Politics at West Virginia University recently shared his family's experience with insurance and medical bills after the birth of son Lukas. We warn you, it's infuriating and confusing.
Haeder writes that the bills started during pregnancy (as they always do). They're lots of testing and check-ups and visits and more tests. Expectant parents tend to just go along with whatever the doctor recommends, because after all, they're the doctor and would know better, right? But we often don't know the costs of the tests we're getting. For example, Haeder says the genetic testing recommended by their doctor was billed to their insurance, for a whopping $26,755.
But the most infuriating part of their ordeal came when Haeder's wife actually gave birth. She labored at home for 30 hours, not wanting to spend that time in the hospital. As a result, Lukas was nearly born in the car! But that didn't stop the hospital from billing for their services.
The delivery room, which Haeder says they used for a grand total of one minute, cost around $7,000. Room and board for his wife for two days? $3,100. Tow Tylenol? $25! But the most egregious item on the bill had to be the charge for the doctor, WHO WASN'T EVEN PRESENT FOR THE DELIVERY. That sure didn't stop him from billing their insurance for $4,200.
It's definitely worth reading his entire piece, just to get a sense of how messed up the health care and insurance industry is in this country. Over four thousand dollars for a doctor who didn't even provide a service is absolutely outrageous.