The View From Your Sickbed

A reader writes:

When I was 6 months pregnant with my first child, and on complete bedrest, I was laid off. I was unable to look for a new job, being so late into a very difficult pregnancy. My doctors that had worked with me on this high-risk pregnancy were not covered by my husband's insurance company. We decided to use COBRA for me so I could continue to see my doctors of choice. My severance ran out the day my son was born prematurely, with complications from having the umbilical cord around his neck during birth.

The first bill for his expenses came as I was leaving the hospital without my son. When a claim was denied because they said my son had a preexisting condition, that was the final straw.

Nothing like getting on the phone with an insurance company and getting straight that preexisting conditions do not apply before a child is actually born. I ended up a heap on the floor, exhausted from giving birth, taking care of my child, and the fear that we would go bankrupt from the bills. My husband said "Whatever it costs, we'll pay it, I just want them to take care of our son."

The bills were still coming 18 months later, when our tiny baby was a happy, healthy boy. It was around $20K total, even with insurance. When I hear people afraid of "health care rationing," I want to throttle them. May they never have to deal with an insurance company who wouldn't pay a $6,000 claim because they said your newborn son has a preexisting condition.