the funny thing about hospital bills

About a week after the birth, we received three separate bills from the hospital. Two were for around $5,000 each, and one for over $32,000. They weren’t itemized but rather mentioned a few of the services rendered by title. For example, Nursery/Level I: $3646. (What “nursery”? I don’t recall any such service.) A note on the side stated that if we want an actual itemized bill, we have to ask

While each “bill” stated at the top “For Your Information Only,” each came with a return envelope for submitting payment. As if we might just say to ourselves, oh, yes, $42,000. Let me just write you a check. Oh wait, three separate checks. Of course.

I waited. A couple of weeks later we received three more envelopes from the hospital, with actual bills (marked “Bill For Services”) inside — and three more return envelopes. This time, there were no notes about what the amounts were for. (Shame on you if you threw away the FYI letters.) Two of the bills showed the insurance payments and the reduced, adjusted fees owed. But one still said $5,000+.

So I called the insurance company on Monday and asked. They said I wasn’t responsible, that it was part of the adjusted amount or something. I couldn’t understand what he was saying, (may I blame sleep deprivation?) so I just wrote it down verbatim “‘included in total delivery charge,’ Armando, 12/31, Blue Cross” and called the hospital.

It took less than five minutes. Oh yes, she said. No problem. Just disregard that bill.

Wow, okay. That was easy.

5 comments for “the funny thing about hospital bills

  1. January 2, 2008 at 4:39 am

    On top of everything else, jeesh. How about a nice note thanking you for having your baby at their hospital, now that would be nice!

  2. January 2, 2008 at 10:58 am

    We can never make sense of our medical bills either. My husband thinks they just do some kind of voodoo and guess some amount they’d like us to pay.

    NoMasNinos’s last blog post..Poo Stains Begone!

  3. January 2, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    My hospital 6.5 years ago (for kid #2) sent me a bill for the complete fee, even though we were in a work-sponsored HMO. I ignored it although I was dismayed that they were billing me. I assumed they would figure it out. They sent another bill. Then they sent a bill saying that the insurance co. was paying $0 and I owed the complete fee.

    I called the hospital, they said it’s the insurance co.’s fault, call them. I called the insurance co., they said it’s the hospital’s fault, call them. I called the hospital back and told them what the insurance co. said.

    I dropped it for a while – let them work it out – but the hospital sent me another bill!!!

    So I called the office of the President of the hospital, told the Executive assistant what was going on. I am tired of dealing with it, I said, and I want them to resolve it.

    The phone call to the Pres.’ office did the trick. They sent me a statement and a letter saying that somehow the insurance company has paid and the billing dept. won’t bother me anymore.

    How would single payer health care be more bureaucratic and clumsy than this? Just sayin’ (and the overhead on billing and administration in this country comes to FIFTY PERCENT of every dollar we spend on health care. Yeah right, corporate healthcare is more efficient than “socialized medicine”…)

  4. January 2, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    Hey BTW you know those ALL CAPS and vociferous comments are not directed at you, darling. I just get exercised about this health care stuff. It could be so efficient and easy and it is so improbable that we will have it.

  5. January 3, 2008 at 5:22 pm


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