The amount was billed due to an administrative error from the the hospital.
First-time mom Bisi Bennett received the shock of her life when she received a hospital bill for more than half a million dollars after giving birth, despite having health insurance, reveals CBS News. While her newborn was in intensive care, Bennett's employer switched the insurance plans leading to major confusion over billing.
Bennett's son Dorian is now a healthy 1-year-old boy, but when he was born in November 2020, he was premature, and the mother was worried if he would survive. "I didn't even know if he was born alive and if he was stillborn," Bennett told "CBS Mornings" co-host Tony Dokoupil. "So I'm crying and very upset that I don't know he's going to make it at that point."
Dorian had to spend about two months in the hospital before he was allowed to go home, and that's when Bennet received a bill for over $550,000 from the hospital. "I was very upset when I saw the half-a-million-dollar bill because I felt like I done everything in my power to avoid them sending me that huge bill," she said.
A Florida woman received a hospital bill for more than $500,000 after giving birth — despite having health insurance.— CBS Mornings (@CBSMornings) December 21, 2021
“I felt like I'd done everything in my power to avoid them sending me that huge bill,” said first-time mom Bisi Bennett. pic.twitter.com/N49irOu274
When she knew she had to get admitted, she picked a hospital that was included in her United Healthcare insurance plan, but in January 2021, while her son was still in the NICU–her employer changed health plans to UMR. Now, the hospital, instead of billing for United Healthcare for 2020 and UMR for 2021, billed both policies for both years. Given how neither company would cover the bill due to the administrative error, Bennet ended up being billed for the huge amount.
"I called the hospital several times just to let them know, 'Hey, you guys are lumping the bill together, you need to split it out.'" She then got an updated bill from the hospital, but it was for the same amount, and she had to pay nearly $46,000 a month. "Which is ridiculous. I don't have $46,000 to pay a month," Bennett said.
Healthcare in America is a joke. As a cancer patient with insurance,I know! 3 full time drs in my rural cancer center. 3 full time insurance navigating staff fighting for authorization of care. The financial devastation for the entire family is quite real, we live it daily!— Wendi (@wendiholymoses) December 21, 2021
"I was scared that I was going to end up in collections," she said. "I hope that by doing this story, that they would really think about just health care from a holistic standpoint. Health is not just when you're in the hospital...It also has to do with how you treat someone after they've been discharged from the hospital."
Finally, in October 2021, the Advent Health Orlando Hospital was contacted by Kaiser Health News. They eventually revised Bennett's bill and it was updated to $300 total.
In a statement, United Healthcare said it did not receive the 2020 portion of the hospital bill until this fall, adding that it has since paid the amount. "We apologize for the frustration this caused," the hospital said in a statement. "For future patients like Ms. Bennett, who may experience a change in insurance during their treatment, this case has allowed us to identify opportunities within our system to improve the billing and communications process."
Meanwhile, the editor-in-chief of Kaiser Health News, Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal, said "The problem here is that when there's a snafu or a disagreement between providers, the patient is left holding the bag."
Cover Image Source: Twitter | CBS This Morning