When my son Michael was born, he was diagnosed with Hemolytic blood disease. A condition in which my body had developed antibodies against his blood, destroying his red blood cells rendering him severely anemic. His first week of life was spent in the hospital under fluorescent lighting fighting severe bilirubinemia which can cause several adverse medical conditions such as brain damage, blindness, and deafness. Thinking we were out of the woods upon his discharge we were distraught to discover 4 weeks later that he had developed severe anemia, and had contracted E-coli bacteria in his bloodstream. We live in a very small rural area in Northern California which houses a very competent hospital for every kind of patient except infants. It was the Emergency doctors decision to have Michael airlifted to the nearest NICU that would be willing to take Michael. The California University Davis in Sacramento California was the nearest facility that could handle Michaels' dire medical condition. An air team was quickly dispatched out of Sacramento 220 miles away. It was a very stressful and frightening experience for both my husband and I. Michael spent a week in the NICU at Davis receiving an exchange transfusion and IV antibiotics. Weeks after our return home is when I got the shocking statement from the ambulances that transported him to Sacramento. Cal Star air of Sacramento sent me a bill of nearly $50,000 for the flight alone. The ambulance service in my small town charged me nearly $4,000 for a 10 mile ride to the airport and the Sacramento EMS ambulance service charged me nearly $5,000 for a 15 mile ride to UCD. Just the transportation alone cost me nearly $60,000 which was almost double that of a week stay in the NICU at UCD. After battling fiercely with my insurance company to pay the bills, I was still left with nearly 10,000 out of pocket for the entire ordeal. With an income of under $50,000 a year it will take my husband and I most of our lives to pay these entities off. What gripes me the most is Cal Stars stance on the whole situation. They sent me a flyer with my bill claiming to be a nonprofit organization and then demanded that I pay my bill promptly or be sent to collection and that was AFTER receiving over $40,000 from my insurance company. What i do not understand is how these businesses get away with fees so extraordinary. This is an issue I feel that does not get enough attention especially in Washington. Obama’s dream team is more worried about everyone having health insurance and not worrying enough about the amounts individuals are being charged. It is costs like these that bring premiums and co pays to an all time high. It is a huge reason why state funded healthcare is in trouble. With prices like these I do not know how an uninsured individual would cope. What are we left to do?
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