September 28, 2022

Woman charged more than $500,000 after giving birth despite having health insurance

A Florida woman ended up with a hospital bill for more than half a million dollars after giving birth — despite having health insurance. She switched health insurance plans while her newborn was in intensive care, and she says that led to major confusion over billing. 

Her son Dorian is a healthy 1-year-old now, but when he was born prematurely in November 2020 and rushed to the NICU, first-time mom Bisi Bennett was terrified about his health.

“I didn’t even know if he was born alive and if he was stillborn,” Bennett told “CBS Mornings” co-host Tony Dokoupil. “So I’m crying and very upset that I don’t know he’s going to make it at that point.”

Dorian was in the hospital for about two months before he was healthy enough to go home. Then Bennett got the hospital bill — for more than $550,000. 

“I was very upset when I saw the half-a-million-dollar bill because I felt like I done everything in my power to avoid them sending me that huge bill,” she said.

She had picked a hospital that was in-network for her United Healthcare insurance. But in January 2021, while her son was still in the NICU – her employer changed health plans to UMR.

Instead of billing United Healthcare for 2020 and UMR for 2021, the hospital billed both policies for both years. When neither would cover the bill because of the administrative error, Bennett was charged more than $550,000.

“I called the hospital several times just to let them know, ‘Hey, you guys are lumping the bill together, you need to split it out.'”

Despite her calls, the same bill was sent again, with a payment plan of nearly $46,000 a month.

“Which is ridiculous. I don’t have $46,000 to pay a month,” Bennett said.

“I was scared that I was going to end up in collections,” she said. “I hope that by doing this story, that they would really think about just health care from a holistic standpoint. Health is not just when you’re in the hospital…It also has to do with how you treat someone after they’ve been discharged from the hospital.”

The Advent Health Orlando Hospital revised the bill after being contacted by Kaiser Health News in October. Bennett’s bill was then updated to $300 total.

In a statement, United Healthcare said it did not receive the 2020 portion of the hospital bill until this fall, and it has since paid it. 

“We apologize for the frustration this caused,” the hospital said in a statement. “For future patients like Ms. Bennett, who may experience a change in insurance during their treatment, this case has allowed us to identify opportunities within our system to improve the billing and communications process.”

 The editor-in-chief of Kaiser Health News, Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal, said “The problem here is that when there’s a snafu or a disagreement between providers, the patient is left holding the bag.”

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/medical-bill-birth-health-insurance-kaiser-health-news/