and now I’ll probably get another $1800 bill for this heart attack

It is a spectacularly beautiful day in St. Louis.

2014-10-08 14.40.49

So, on this spectacularly beautiful day — made more spectacular by the fact that my editor is out today, and thus I get a day off from rewriting my latest article, which may need rewriting on its rewriting — I just waddled out to the mailbox, whereupon I was delighted to receive another DVD of The Hour (yes, we still watch DVDs sometimes, on my 2007 MacBook that barely works and is now “our TV”). The Hour is a BBC show from 2010 that features Moriarty before he was Moriarty AND Dominic West, known almost exclusively in the US as McNulty. I like The Hour all right; it’s sort of like Sherlock without the cleverness + The Newsroom minus about 900% douchiness + Downton Abbey if it were in the 50s and anyone had a job + Mad Men minus all the things that make Mad Men both interesting and horrible. But I am largely in it for McNulty’s real accent, which, I know that half of the actors on teh showz are faking their American accents (from Chuck Bass to the rest of the Wire cast to half of Nashville to all the leads on True Blood to whatshisfuck from Homeland, whose accent is actually really wonky, but that’s not why I don’t watch Homeland anymore; I don’t watch Homeland because it sucks!), but it still blows my mind. I imagine his accent on The Hour is actually supposed to be more upper-class twit than West actually is, but still. All right.

Anyway, I was like, “Whee, more The Hour!” and then I absentmindedly opened what has now become the routine occurrence of a bill from Barnes Jewish Hospital and/or Washington University Medical Center, which is where Dr. Bill Masters’ successors look after both SchuBabby and the loins from which she shall spring forth. Thanks not in small part to Obamacare (take that, haters!), routine prenatal care even with the shitty high-deductible plan we stupidly switched to right before I got pregnant (who DOES THAT?) is almost 100% covered by my insurance. Most of my bills for this pregnancy and its attendant weirdness (a few weeks ago I managed to strain a muscle in my hoo-ha. WHO DOES THAT?) have been for like $7. This includes the ultra-cutting-edge Materniti21 genetic screening that is rather controversial but which I can’t recommend highly enough if you are of “advanced maternal age” like some people.

So imagine my mild cardiac event when I opened up today’s bill to find it read $1,799.25. What in the everloving fuck? It did not include a phone number to discuss said bill (only one to pay it, and another one to call if you couldn’t pay it), so the first thing I did was call the Office Formerly Known as Dr. Masters’ Sex Emporium, and inquire as to what sort of gold-plated vagina Mercedes I unknowingly received in the Year of Our Lord, September the Fifth. “That was your anatomical ultrasound,” said Sandy, the incredibly nice receptionist who is pretty much my BFF at this point because the week I was waiting for the Mat21 results I called her twice a day. You know, this:

2014-09-05 14.06.55

The baby, by the way, is way fatter than this now, if by “the baby” we mean me.

Anyway, these are nice pics and all, but are they $1,799.25 worth?

‘Wait, isn’t the 20-week ultrasound routine prenatal care?” “Yes,” Sandy said, “It’s very routine and covered by insurance. That seems like a mistake.” She transferred me to the billing department at the hospital. While I was on hold, I was thinking, Do they just charge in advance for births now? Is that how this works? 

Anyway, it turns out the hospital had me on file as uninsured (super weird, since in the past year I they have filed approximately ninety jillion claims to my insurance on my behalf, but let’s not strain my feeble little woman-brain). I gave them my insurance info and I will be getting a new, much smaller bill forthwith. BUT SUDDENLY NOW a bunch of weird letters and phone calls I’ve gotten in the past month have started to make sense. Soon after that 9/5 ultrasound, I started getting what looked like predatory loan-consolidation letters in the mail, from Rando Shysty-Sounding Billing Associates Somewhere, offering to set up a payment plan for my hospital bill. I was like, “Uch, I have got to get off these mailing lists. Blech,” and ignored them. Then I started getting phone calls, which I also ignored. I was like: Maybe they do this for everyone about to give birth in their hospital as a precautionary measure? Maybe I should set up a payment plan for one of my $10 bills and pay 50 cents a month on it just because I can? 

But now it all makes sense. They were like, “We’ve got to reach out to this uninsured person, who for some reason has only gotten one small procedure’s worth of an entire pregnancy’s prenatal care, at full price, and now owes us nearly $2000, but no money for any other prenatal procedures, because our providers would definitely perform an anatomical ultrasound on a 20-weeks-pregnant walk-in with no insurance and no other physical exam beforehand; that makes total sense and is definitely what happened; let’s send this bill.” Obviously.

In unrelated news, as soon as this kid comes out I am scrawling SCHUBABBY on her ass in Sharpie so that she doesn’t accidentally get sent home with a tonsillectomy patient.

2 thoughts on “and now I’ll probably get another $1800 bill for this heart attack

  1. Ha! This happened to me as well, even though they take a new copy of my insurance card literally every time I walk through the door, and when I called the hospital billing office they were like “Oh yeah, this has been happening lately.” NO BIGGIE!

    Around here they bundle up all your prenatal care together with the birth, so you don’t get to see a bill or an estimate for most of a year until after they’ve totaled it all up. When your insurance covers all “usual and customary” care, but you have no idea whether any of your individualized extra or weird stuff will be considered “usual and customary,” you literally have no idea how much it’s all going to cost, so you just try not to ever, ever think about it.


    • I once got an insurance bill for just shy of $150,000 (not a typo) related to the delivery and care of my first-born 15 years ago. The birth was no problem–that bill damn near put me on the floor.


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