About this iReport
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    Posted February 21, 2013 by
    Los Angeles, California
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Bitter pill: The cost of health care in the U.S.

    Half a Million Dollar Heart


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     This iReport is part of TIME and CNN’s special report "Bitter Pill: Why medical bills are killing us." The total figure reported covered delivery, the hospital stay, testing and surgery. These exact numbers are self-reported and have not been independently verified by CNN. While costs for procedures can vary widely based on the doctor, hospital, and insurance plan, these numbers are in line with average and/or typical charges.

    Have you been surprised by a high medical bill? Share your story and you could be featured on TIME and CNN.
    - rachel8, CNN iReport producer

    Our daughter Nora was born with congenital heart defects and needed open-heart surgery when she was 4 days old to repair a hypoplastic aortic arch. Her 2 week hospital stay, open-heart surgery, and countless chest x-rays, echocardiograms, blood gas tests, IVs, medications and more cost $428,903. Almost half a million dollars! A number that, as young working parents, we could not fathom.

    We are fortunate enough to have insurance through my employer, so we were spared financial hardship: our out-of-pocket costs for Nora’s surgery bills were only $2,395. I can’t imagine what our life would be like if we didn’t have health insurance.

    1 in 100 babies are born with congenital heart defects, making it the most common birth defect. According to the Children’s Heart Foundation, the cost for inpatient surgery to repair congenital heart defects exceeds $2.2 billion a year. For children like Nora and families like ours, this is not sustainable.

    Today, Nora is a happy 5 month-old baby, and we're proud to show her “zip-line scar,” proving what a warrior she is and what she endured at such a young age.

    As a parent, I’d do anything and pay anything for the health and safety of my child. If that means paying half a million dollars for her to have a healthy, beating heart, I’d do it. How? I’m grateful for my employer-sponsored health care coverage and thankful that I don’t need to have an answer.
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