Thursday, October 6, 2011

Three months later and they still don't get it...

Am I really still having to dredge this up and try to explain this to these people?  I don't care if this is customary...I WON'T pay it.  You can't just have two options and lump everything into those two categories if it doesn't fit!  It is so ridiculous how much those of us who have lost our babies have to fight to prove they were real, to grieve alone because our babies were lost to us but hard to envision for others, and we have to feel isolated in it all because others' think that life goes on and do not understand the constant daily struggle, not only with the emotions and the loss, but with all the medical and physical issues, as well as the decisions regarding future pregnancies.  It never ends.  I hope that someone else in my position will read this letter and stand up and fight for their ridiculous charges as well.  Just because it is commonplace does not make it acceptable!  It is fraud, there just aren't enough of us with the strength to fight it when we are so beat down by it all!  Funny how the consumer is always right, until it involves something serious, and then we are just crazy!  

Baylor Healthcare - Garland
Account #4768022

Amanda Cannon
601 Meadowcreek Ln.
Garland, TX. 75043

Baylor Hospital of Garland

To Whom It May Concern;

In response to the letter I received from *********, I wanted to address my issue in writing
so that maybe it will be understood more clearly.  I can only gather that obviously the issue is not translating well over the phone and through the billing specialists to the Grievance Committee; otherwise, I do not see how there could still be an issue.  There is no question on my part that I am being charged for services that do not apply to my somewhat unique circumstances.  I have worked in doctor's offices and understand how there are specific fees and charges, codes for procedures for the purpose of billing, and sometimes nothing fits so it just goes with the next closest thing.  My charges are not appropriate in the fact that I am being charged for a procedure that is either related to a "stillbirth" or "term birth," as those are the only two options with which were available to choose from (as was explained to me over the phone).  It's funny how everyone I have spoken to is so quick to tell me how it is in the room and what goes on and that the universal charge still applies...yet, I was there.  I know what went on and what did not.  The definition of what went on, does not even come close.  I don't care what the bill says.  I WAS THERE!

My case is not the norm, as far as stillbirth is concerned.  My son's heart stopped beating at 14 weeks.  In most cases, a D&C is done.  I was induced to have less complications than a D&C would risk because of his size.  In medical literature, an "aborted" fetus before 20 weeks is called a miscarriage, even though I was induced and "delivered," making it a thin line between miscarriage and stillbirth. Nevertheless, that line does exist.  You cannot classify the procedure I had in either category any more than you could charge someone that had a toe amputation the same as someone who lost an entire limb.  The difference between what occured and what I was charged for are as different as night and day.  I cannot imagine that my fees equal to someone who has had a long, drawn out and difficult labor, resulting in close monitoring of both mother and child, and resulting in a live birth.  It is not a matter of opinion, it is what happened.  I, having been there, can explain to you much better than what was written on a paper as a billing or diagnosis code.

The problem I have with being charged for a typical "Vaginal Delivery" is that there was no delivery, aside from what my body did on it's own.  I have three full-term children.  I completely understand this charge for a full-term birth scenario,or maybe even more so for a loss that was further along and did require assistance during labor and delivery; however, I did not have a physician checking on me intermittently, nor did I have monitors hooked up to me to monitor mine and the baby's vitals, hoping for no signs of distress, heart rates, etc.  I did not have an IV, nor did I take any medication, other than the pills that were used for induction.  I did not have to be checked on throughout labor and afterwards to make sure I was healing properly, nor did I need assistance with the baby afterwards.  I had a nurse (and she was amazing!) who checked on us a few times to make sure we were comfortable and to bring in my pills and a cup of ice.  My doctor came in once in the morning to set up my care plan.  She came in once a few hours before my son was born to see if the pills were working and I was dilating after I felt my water break, and again an hour after he was born to "deliver" the placenta.

Dr. Vu told me that this wasn't like a normal birth or delivery and explained that "it" would just come out.  I wouldn't be pushing or anything.  So, I just sat, waiting, for my son to basically slide out, which is what happened.  My son was born to a quiet room, with just my husband and I.  There was no team of doctors, nurses, neonatal staff, etc.  No monitors chirping or IV lines to tangle.  It was my husband and I.  When I felt my son, we called the nurse.  She came in, picked him up and situated him in a little pocket, made sure we were okay, and left the room.  That was my "Vaginal Delivery."  There was no pushing, no epidural, no IVs or comfort measures taken, no close monitoring.  It was basically a rented room for a miscarriage.

In my case, there is no black or white.  It is not technically a stillbirth, nor is it a full term delivery, as I have tried to explain to the billing specialists.  In this case, there needs to be a gray area.  I'm sorry if there is no billing code for what occured, and it is either one or the other, but that is not acceptable. They tried to say that I had to have a physician's assistant or doctor there at all times for my care...but there was not.  There was no hustle and bustle or team of people for me and my son.  There was no chaos and ongoing work for anyone involved, other than myself.  It was my husband and I.  I understand there is the room...that was broken down into it's own fee, as were the other charges for which I have no issue with.

I have an itemized statement listing the charges.  I understand the labs, the medications, the room and board, the supplies used....all should be applied. However, there was not much else done outside of the room board, the supplies and medications used, and the labs.  I would agree to paying for the hour my doctor was there and the nurse who cared for me.  What I do not agree with is the charge for a "Vaginal Delivery / Delivery Room."  If that is the case, then maybe it should be I who is paid since I did the work myself?  There was nothing that should even come close to a $2,673.82 charge for the "Vaginal Delivery" alone.  Besides the fact, the doctor never even touched my son, but in fact asked if I wanted to set him aside and then flinched and went to put on gloves when I tried to hand him to her.  How is that a delivery?  What did she deliver?  She never even acknowledged that my son was a human being and it took a month of the funeral home arguing with her to finally get her to sign the Death Certificate.  So...I was charged for a Vaginal Delivery of what?  Tissue?  I see on my statement that I am also billed this for the second time I came in, but it is listed as "Delivery Room."  That was for a D&C, but identical charge.  How do the two have the same charge when they were two totally different circumstances?  For the D&C, I was indeed taken to a different room and a lot more care and involvement occurred...I HAD a procedure, was put to sleep, and then had a lot of trouble afterwards.  How do the two equal the same when one was an hour-long surgery and one was me, alone?  How does my Room and Board and Delivery Room fee both occur on the same bill for my initial stay, when I was only IN one room the entire one bed, no procedure.  Nothing changed.

I do want to thank the nurses who we came in contact with during both of my stays.  They were fantastic, as was the chaplain.  If it weren't for the issue of the hospital bill and having such a hard time talking to someone who knows something other than billing codes and what they see on paper, or even just someone who would address the issue seriously, instead of just writing me off as someone trying to get out of paying my bill, I would have loved to experience a future childbirth at Baylor.  The care was adequate on the nurses part, the hospital, however, is another story altogether.  I am tired of having to repeat this story and get through to people with automaton responses who only know one thing to say and loosely, if at all, listen to what I am telling them.  It is painful to relive over and over again, but I will not agree to this charge.  This bill is wrong.