Paying Medical Bills: A Necessary, Crappy Part of the Journey

17 Jul

I just got off the phone with hospital billing.

We’ve had a lot of bills for Jackson and Abby this year. It’s kind of our life. Honestly, it’s okay with me. Many people go through years of this and don’t have their children at the end of the journey. Our journey continues, and for that I am grateful.

It’s not fun and definitely not a welcome stressor. When we were in the trenches with Jackson or Abby, seeing how much it was costing and seeing our kids struggle at the same time was too much for me to handle. I’d be in the hospital with Jackson for a week, come home with my bald, sick child in the midst of grueling cancer treatment and check the mail. Those days we’d get at least one Explanation of Benefits everyday in the mail. After a week, our box would be stuffed with insurance stuff and what we owed.

I just wanted to escape but I couldn’t. There was no way out.

So instead, I would take those offensive bills and hide them in drawers in our office. Thankfully, Everett would fish them out.

We definitely had help along the way. One or two fundraisers, and help from our families. Donations were amazing. (This was before this huge surge of Kickstarter or GoFundMe.*) At the end of the day, though, the majority was left to us. But we did it, we paid our bills and kept our credit in good standing. I really have to thank Everett for that. I shouldered the kids’ everyday needs and he kept us afloat.

*I should note for those receiving monetary gifts from online sites, please consult a tax professional. There are tax implications that you might not know about. Seriously, Google it.

And here’s the perspective you gain from cancer and serious illnesses: today, I’m at peace with the fact we’ll have medical bills forever. I know if they’re red, I need to call. If there’s trouble with insurance, I need to call. And I know if it’s the end of the year, the hospital might have a discount for paying off your entire bill by December 31.

Always worth a call.

This morning’s phone call was to consolidate Jackson and Abby’s bills into one account so we can have everything on the same payment plan. I could tell it was a little confusing for our billing lady at first, which I appreciated.

We got it right, eventually. And then she gave me Abby’s total and Jackson’s total, and when I added it up in my head, I’m pretty sure I made this face:

grinning-face-with-smiling-eyes

But, I go from yikes to resolved pretty fast because I’ve learned:

  • With medical costs, it’s always better to know what you owe than to fear what you owe.
  • The payment plan is the way to go. Medical bills WILL NOT go to collections if you keep paying.

Today’s call was different than most. Do you know who wasn’t okay with my new medical bill sum? My billing lady on the other end.

After a couple minutes of her sighs and re-figuring, it started to strike me as funny! I wanted to tell her it was just money and it’ll be okay. We’ve paid thousands in medical expenses every year since 2009. She didn’t have to pay it, she was going to be okay. Haha.

But it was really sweet to have someone know what we faced and want to fix it for us. She made me promise to fill out a form she was sending me for uncompensated care to offset amounts not paid by insurance. I told her Ev and I wouldn’t qualify because we make too much together, and she told me TO DO IT ANYWAY. So I promised her I’d fill it out. That seemed to make her feel better.

Bless her heart, she didn’t want to get off the phone. She told me not to worry about money and that we’d get everything figured out and if I had such a good attitude about life, then she had to, too. Finally, she told me that it was Friday and I should know that I’m just so blessed.

So I started crying then (of course) and blubbered thanks and goodbye.

And the journey continues. I love these expensive little people.

One thought on “Paying Medical Bills: A Necessary, Crappy Part of the Journey

  1. Our son was in the NICU in part of 2013 and 2014 (December baby). So we had two deductibles to meet and 2 out of pocket maximums. I called the neonatologist billing group and asked for a payment plan, they told me if we could pay it all off right then that they would take $1000 off the total! It is definitely always worth the phone call!

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