Friday, August 14, 2015

Rage against the billing machine

I'm 37 weeks pregnant. My midwife is on holiday this week. Her partner in her practice is totally delightful and I was super looking forward to seeing her. My midwife is bad ass. Retired military, no kids and was the first midwife in my city to get rights to deliver at the biggest hospital chain in my state. Her partner is a former student who has two boys, two years apart (like mine will be). And I adore them both. Also, I like the practice they are at. But, I do not like the billing department.

After being a single income family for two years, money is tight. Having an unexpected pregnancy, money is tight. I've made payments when I can, I've been in regular contact with the billing department, but holy fucking shit. Now that we are at the end of the pregnancy, I received a voicemail from Becca in Billing letting me know that I need to be prepared to make some kind of payment at my appointment on Friday. I called her back and let her know that, I'm well aware I owe them money, but telling me I need to make a payment won't make money magically appear in my bank account. Then she started saying things like, "Well, because you've only paid x amount of money, you're essentially receiving services for free." I countered with, "That's bullshit. My insurance covers 80% of the costs." Then I told her how I used to see the best chiropractor in town, until their billing department back-billed my insurance for services I'd paid for out-of-pocket, without telling me. They were acting all shady, so I didn't trust them. And you don't mess with people's money. It makes them angry. And now I see the second best chiropractor in town. When I can afford my co-pay to see the chiropractor, which isn't very often. (Side note: I haven't had a pedicure since February. And that was a birthday present from a friend).

So, after my phone call with Becca from Billing, I called back to get the results of my group B strep test (negative) and cancel the scheduled appointments I had. I also talked to the billing manager. Then I started researching what happens if I don't find a provider before I go into labor. The hospital has laborists that work 24/7, so that's not an issue. But the nurse I talked to in L&D at the hospital told me I should page my midwife when she gets back from holiday to let her know about my billing issue, and that my midwife will probably be pretty freaking angry that the billing department is costing her clients. Especially since we moved hospitals when the midwife moved hospitals and our toddler was one of the first ten babies she delivered at the larger, fancier hospital.

So, I'm totally going to call her and let her know what happened, but I'm not going back there. I received an estimate of what I owe for services I've received and I'm trying to figure out what to do for the next couple of weeks. If it was just me, and I wasn't pregnant, and I needed three more weeks of doctors exams for something, I would just say fuck it and not go to the doctor, but shit can still go wrong even this late in the pregnancy game, and I have to make sure Brown Sugar is good.

And I came to a conclusion through this whole billing thing. You know how the billing department is always separate? I've determined it is for the same reason that nurses give shots in the pediatrician office: it's so you don't have a negative association with your direct care provider. And I don't. But I do have a negative association with the whole practice in general.

So, I called a local birth center to get a quote. My insurance doesn't cover the facility fee, so it's a minimum $1500 right there. And I don't mind delivering in a hospital anyway. Particularly if this labor goes even half as fast as the last one. So, I'm just trying to figure out the prenatal care issue. I'm going to call the health department to see if they have any recommendations. Or I may just hit Primary Health or something. It's a $20 copay when I go in there, but whatever. What extra super sucks is that we, as a family, are in that income bracket where we make too much money to get any kind of help, but we don't make enough money to have things like money in savings or a liquor cabinet so we can drink away our financial worries.

In other news, Chumby went to the dentist yesterday. They said his teeth look really good. His molars still haven't busted through yet (they're taking FOREVER) and they even let him use the whirring tooth polisher thing to polish two of his teeth. And they had a cool dragon with a mouth full of teeth and a giant toothbrush so Chumby could brush some dragon teeth. Yay! And he got a new toothbrush and the hygienist and dentist both complimented him on his manners. Such a polite young man. And I asked about flossing. They said it isn't necessary yet (until his teeth are touching) but may as well start to get him used to it. Maybe flossing his teeth will make me better about flossing mine (once a week FTW!).

This week, Brown Sugar is the size of a winter melon, Swiss Chard and a large mouth bass. So, make this. Just replace the radicchio with Swiss Chard and you will still be following the guidelines of an appropriate faux-infant cannibalism diet.

And, just for fun, here's a flashback to the last time I was this pregnant.

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