By Consumers for Quality Care, on May 7, 2018
Hospitals are sending large bills to newborn babies, Splinter News reports:
There are frantic posts about it on new mom message boards all over the internet: About $5,000 charges for “newborn nursery” services billed to the baby when it never left the hospital room, or surprise charges to infants women thought were covered under their policies.
Few health care advocates knew about or could defend the practice. Adam Nicolai, who worked in health insurance for more than a decade, explained the practice:
“It seemed weird to me too until I realized the newborn is (of course) another human being,” he wrote in an email, “receiving their own distinct services, so the hospital treats them as a separate patient.”
Usually, these bills are transferred to the mother’s policy.
But because our healthcare billing systems are so complex they feel like a vast and nefarious conspiracy against anyone who ever needs to see a doctor, and because a woman’s ability to bear a healthy, debt-free child is something of a privilege, some infants do fall through the cracks.
In one instance, a newborn racked up thousands of dollars in bills after not being eligible to be on the mother’s insurance plan, which was provided through the baby’s grandparent’s employer.
That newborn babies, as separate entities, start getting charged the second they exit the womb isn’t the most counterintuitive hospital policy I’ve encountered. That so few women know to anticipate these bills, and the way they’re delivered, is a symptom of an incomprehensible network that takes advantage of patients’ relative ignorance.
Like all surprise medical bills, these bills leave mothers and families scrambling to cover the debts.