Bisi Bennett had picked a hospital in the insurer's network to avoid a huge bill but still ended up being charged half a million.
A Florida woman was shocked after she was handed a hospital bill of more than half a million dollars after giving birth despite having health insurance from her employer. Bisi Bennett, who gave birth in November 2020, was scared for the safety of her child as the newborn was immediately rushed to the NICU. "I didn't even know if he was born alive and if he was stillborn," recalled Bennett, reported CBS News. "So I'm crying and very upset that I don't know he's going to make it at that point." It was around that time when her employer switched her health insurance plans which led to this massive confusion causing distress to Bennett.
Dorian, her 1-year-old son, is now a healthy 1-year-old. Just when Bennett thought the worst was over, she was handed a hospital bill of more than $550,000 for her stay at the hospital for roughly two months. "I was very upset when I saw the half-a-million-dollar bill because I felt like I [had] done everything in my power to avoid them sending me that huge bill," she said. Bennett was careful to pick a hospital that was part of the network of her insurance plan—United Healthcare insurance. But her employer had switched the insurance plan to UMR in January when her son was still in the NICU.
The Advent Health Orlando Hospital, instead of billing United Healthcare for 2020 and UMR for 2021, billed both the policies for both years. Both insurance providers refused to cover the bill citing an administrative error from the hospital. Caught in the middle of all this was a first-time mom, who was handed a bill of 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,'" said Bennett.
A Florida woman received a hospital bill for more than $500,000 after giving birth — despite having health insurance.— CBS Mornings (@CBSMornings) December 21, 2021
“I felt like I'd done everything in my power to avoid them sending me that huge bill,” said first-time mom Bisi Bennett. pic.twitter.com/N49irOu274
Despite repeatedly contacting them and informing them of the error, they kept sending her the same bill with a payment plan of $46,000 a month. "Which is ridiculous. I don't have $46,000 to pay a month," said Bennett. "I was scared that I was going to end up in collections," she said. With Bennett's story being covered in mainstream media, she's hoping hospitals and insurance companies "would really think about just health care from a holistic standpoint." She added that 'health' shouldn't be limited to just the period you are 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 eventually revised the bill after being contacted by Kaiser Health News in October. The revised bill was $300 in total. United Healthcare released a statement claiming that they had not received a portion of their hospital bill until this fall. They also confirmed that the bill had been paid. "We apologize for the frustration this caused," said the hospital 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."
Woman in labor walks to the hospital because an ambulance is too expensive pic.twitter.com/vc1mvfLFuB— Fifty Shades of Whey (@davenewworld_2) October 15, 2021
While Bennett's may have been a matter of technicality, humongous hospital bills are a bane of the healthcare system in America and often leave patients scrambling with some even going bankrupt from medical debt. As we reported earlier this year, a pregnant woman chose to walk to the hospital while in labor so she wouldn't have to shell out $2,000 for calling an ambulance. The video was filmed by @kelskiller's partner and shows her walking in the dead of the night. Husband Andrew can be heard asking, “Babe what are we doing right now?” She responds, “Well, our car broke down half a mile from the hospital, so we’re walking because it costs $2000 to order an ambulance,” she replied. It isn't just patients that are fed up with the health care system. The Board Director of the American Academy of Family Physicians recently posted a tweet that highlighted the issue. "I think I'm finally broken," wrote Andrew Carroll, MD. "Insurance company denied a CT Chest on a young woman with the post-Coronavirus syndrome. And while describing why I wanted it, I broke down in tears. It's too much. We want to do the right thing, and stupid rules keep us from being effective for our patients."