By Consumers For Quality Care, on April 12, 2019
Jamie Hansen’s 15 year-old son, Ryan, was ten hours away at a Canadian summer camp when he texted complaining of hip pain and trouble breathing. At first, Jamie dismissed her son’s complaints, thinking it was just nerves. After a few days, his condition continued to worsen and Jamie drove up to get him, Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts reports.
When they got home to Washington, Ryan’s doctor sent them to the emergency room. Ryan was dehydrated and his heart was racing. But when they arrived at the local ER, the hospital told them that they needed to be at a hospital with more specialized pediatric services. They sent Ryan and Jamie to Randall’s Children Hospital, more than an hour away.
Jamie says she knew Randall’s was not in their insurer’s network. The physicians, however, told her that because it was an emergency situation, Ryan would be covered. Ryan spent five days at Randall’s, including four days in its intensive care unit. He was treated for a pilonidal cyst and unrelated infections in his hip and near his heart.
A week after Ryan got home, the bills began to arrive and unfortunately, what the doctors had told Jamie was not true: her insurance was not covering the out-of-network fees. Jamie found herself with a balance bill.
“All told, I was looking at over $110,000 out of my own pocket,” she said. That was money Hansen, who supports herself and Ryan on her late husband’s retirement income, did not have.
Jamie negotiated with Randall’s who adjusted the bill from $97,000 to $24,000. She had to refinance a second mortgage to pay, but says she would have lost her house if they did not get the adjustment.
“Luckily, I had enough credit, I could do it,” she said. “A lot of people wouldn’t be able to.”
Thankfully, Ryan is healthy. He plans to go back to camp next summer – and plans to stay the whole time.