A Hospital Bill and a Reminder

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I met with the finance director of a hospital last week. The blood tests from last December weren't fully covered by insurance and our debt had grown.

A $3,000 dollar bill had become $4,500 dollars, and we felt it was unwarranted.

At the time of the first bill from this hospital we were fleeing from a rental home due to pesticide exposure. Medical bills were stacking up from across the country. Our minds were fogged and we struggled just to keep track of the mail being forwarded from Colorado.

Chris handled most of the bills. I set up a payment plan for this hospital and felt confident all was in place.

We were shocked when we heard from a collections agency this last summer. Our debt from this hospital had been turned over to them. "How would you like to pay?" For two people with a spotless credit history, this question felt surreal.

With no paperwork and only their word, we set up a payment schedule.

We continued to ask for a detailed list of charges and several months later received the bill.

There was a $1,500 charge in addition to the $3,000 we owed.

Why weren't we notified by the hospital that this was being transferred? What happened to the payment plan I set up originally?

We requested a meeting with the hospital's finance director and agreed I would represent us since I was the one to set up the plan.

I walked into the hospital last Monday morning with great trepidation. My composure easily gives way to tears anytime I discuss our story.

I gave her a little of our background. I talked about losing our home and the severity of our illnesses, but quickly moved to my point.

"I set up a payment plan with the hospital and heard nothing about other charges until the collections agency called."

"That payment plan involved only one charge. These other charges were not covered under that plan. Further, it is documented that messages were left on someone's phone." She had a demeaning tone of voice. I could tell arguing was not going to help.

"If I write you a check today for what we owe, will you consider reducing this charge?"

(Chris and I agreed, no matter how stretching, it's worth paying now, rather than stringing it out over more months.)

She responded positively. She took off some of the charges. And kept others.

The trip was worthwhile. We paid the hospital and our bill with the collections agency is now at zero.

I walked away with mixed emotions. Thankful for the compromise and release of the debt.

Pained by the reality that we're in rural Arizona fighting a hospital for charges that mark tragic, horrifying events. Pained by the fact that our insurance carrier willingly paid for the 30 doctors who knew nothing about mold illness, but refused payment for the one who did.

The pain trumped my relief until I arrived home and opened a card from a friend.

Who felt led to send a gift card to our favorite health food store.

A gentle reminder.

I don't "need" our insurance company. It would be foolish to believe that.

Fairness and Justice are not in my control.

I don't have to remain stuck in despondency when something bigger and better awaits.

The book of Isaiah tells me,

He gives "a crown of beauty instead of ashes,

the oil of gladness instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."

I'll take those health benefits any day.