Thursday, October 14, 2010

A NICU Billing Notebook

By nature, I'm totally disorganized. Forgive me if this post seems like common sense. After handing me 4 young children in seven years, the Holy Spirit has acted as a professional organizer during this pregnancy. (One of the many reasons that my husband tells me "you are doing even better with 4 kids than you did with three!" God is very cool like that!)

Today, I invented a Hospital Billing Organizer Notebook that I think is the bees knees.

Supplies needed: three ring notebook, three ring hole punch, blank notebook paper, giant stack o' hospital bills, and a grouchy newborn. (Nothing counts in the Catholic life unless you can do with added penance. A grouchy newborns equal instant penance on any home-making task).

Take your giant stack of NICU medical bills and Insurance Statements. Throw away any duplicates. Order the actual medical bills in the front. Write notes in pencil on the bill itself (such as paid, or waiting for balance billing). Hole punch them and put them in chronological order in your notebook.

Then take your Explanation of Benefits (EOB) forms. Hole punch them and lay them in chronological order. Take a second to read the obscure billing notes on the side. Circle any notes that look odd or wrong. Check off the hospital bills that you've already received.

In the third section, save any important looking notices from your insurance company, such as "ambulance transfer approved."

In the front of your notebook, add some blank notebook paper. This is for you to take notes on during telephone conversations with your Insurance provider. Always note the date, time and person's name, if possible.

Today, I learned that if you have a mammoth Out of Pocket amount to be paid, don't pay any bill until you check with your insurance provider first. So far, I've come up with two billing mistakes, and this was only my first 30 minutes on the job.

Meanwhile, I'm currently in the midst of suffering reverse sticker shock. Only $17,000 for her total medical costs at Children's Hospital? $17,000 to save my baby's life? That's the price of a modest car! She's SO worth it! (Hope this gleefulness continues!)

Billing Update Day 2: Ugh! This billing process is going to take months to finish. A $17,000 bill from Children's Hospital was just the beginning. My insurance company got a second bill today from Children's Hospital for $140,000! Who knows how high the tally will be once all the bills are submitted.

(Under our insurance plan, our portion of Tess' medical bills shouldn't be more than $6,000.00. I'm trying to keep calm about repaying that amount. God provides!)


  1. When my daughter was born 28 years ago I spent 3 months (yes you read that correctly, months) in the hospital before her birth due to a placenta previa. Our hospital bill was for $25,000 (today it would easily, easily top more than $100,000 I'm sure). We always called her our $25,000 baby and said she was worth every penny of it. Fortunately, our group insurance policy covered all but $137 of our expenses related to the pregnancy. I'm so sorry you've got a large out of pocket to pay, but I understand your feeling that Tess is worth every penny.

  2. First find out if your employers' contract is listed as the subscriber (you) is "held harmless." Its vital that you find out this info because most providers (hospitals, docs, radiology, therapists etc) will go ahead & bill insurance & then bill you the difference. If your contract is "held harmless", its fraudulent for them to do that bc they've agreed up front to accept insurance payment as total payment. In 30 yrs, I've never found a provider who volunteers this info...although I'm sure they exist.
    Again, get yourself assigned to a case manager at your insurance co. If you're high-dollar, you might've already been assigned. She should be able to help with some of this but you did right by starting a notebook bc no one is as interested in your account as you are.
    Additionally, watch for double billing (e.g., charges from hosp & provider for same service). That's easy for them to do when they 'bundle' charges. ALWAYS send bundled charges or blanket invoices (from physician offices esp) back to them with a request for itemization.
    If you want, you can email me.