Florida Woman Has Baby In Car . . . Hospital Charges Her The Full Delivery Costs

unknownOne can understand why Paula D’Amore is a tad confused. The South Florida mother gave birth in a car in a hospital parking lot. When the bill from the hospital came in, she was charged the full cost for a hospital delivery of $7,000. It is a story that sums up what many of us view is the inherent dishonesty in hospital charges.

Daniella was born in the fire lane of the Boca Raton Regional Hospital, but somehow occupied a full delivery room and staff inside of the building. It reminds me of the Monty Python skit:

D’Amore never even made it to the delivery room.

We have all seen such astronomical charges by hospitals to file with insurance companies. There seems to be little deterrent in such cases, particularly with limited ability of patients to contest charges. This was supposed to be one of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act in creating mega-data banks that could track costs and over-charges.

They might want to look at the immaculate delivery charges at the Boca Raton Regional Hospital.

48 thoughts on “Florida Woman Has Baby In Car . . . Hospital Charges Her The Full Delivery Costs”

  1. Off topic as usual — today the trial began in Charleston for Michael Slager – the rogue cop (he had previous complaints about excessive use of force) who shot Walter Scott in the back as he was running away. I have never actually watched a real trial and this one is local so I tuned in. When Scott’s Mom spoke I cried for her loss – this dignified lady who worked for the Navel Shipyard 28 years and has been married over 50 years. She epitomises family values. But as happens in any family a child goes awry. Walter Scott, Jr. surely gave her many sleepless nights with his shenanigans, but did not deserve to be shot down like an animal.

    Slager’s attorney, Savage, is a real junk yard dog attorney and has tried to have the trial moved, wants to block the video of the shooting and even tried to remove the reporter for the local newspaper who is covering it. The jury has 11 whites and only 1 black.

    Anyhoo, if y’all are interested it’s on YouTube and resumes tomorrow at 9 AM EST.

  2. So a friend of mine went to an ER on Friday with stomach distress. They said he had a virus and sent him home. A few hours later he was suffering so greatly that he could not stand upright and sweat was popping out on his face. His wife took him back and insisted he be admitted. He was put on morphine for the pain –the diagnosis was colitis. BUT the morphine was not touching the pain which made me very nervous as I had volvulus and then a subsequent intestinal blockage so I know the signs. This went on for several days and I asked his wife about his stomach – was it distended. Yes, so I told to her to insist on a gastro-nasal tube to drain the toxins building up. That was done but the situation continued. Finally he had emergency surgery on Monday early AM and sure enough he had a blockage. They removed several yards of intestines and he felt much better, but now he is off the tube, no IV providing hydration AND they are feeding him! I have pleaded with her not to allow him to eat, but no dice. I will not be surprised if he winds up having a second surgery. My friend is 71 years old – fortunately otherwise in good health – does not smoke or drink and walks 3 miles daily around his farm.

    This is a good example of listening to authority IMO. They live in a small town in TN with only one hospital. I begged her to take him to Vanderbilt but she is listening to these IMO charlatons.

    Please folks — dare to challenge and ask questions and have someone with you who is doing research online.

  3. So, having spent 2.5 weeks in a hospital I want to share this:

    1 – drive yourself, or get someone to drive you directly to the hospital where you can be admitted if necessary – I went to a stand alone ER which cost me a lot in ambulance costs

    2 – have someone stay with you at all times (24/7) and question everything

    3 – get copies of your record so when you are able you can scrutinize the billing (I was billed for a cardiologist who spent 2 seconds in my room)

    4 – expect to expend a lot of effort with the insurance company and the hospital to get the billing right and your benefits taken care of. Many people give up and that is a boon to the hospital and insurance companies

    4 – YOU are the “customer” so if you are uncomfortable with a doctor or a nurse it is your right to ask for another caregiver. I “fired” two nurses during my stay – one was a person in training who left me literally hanging with an IV partially inserted as she went off to answer another call and the other who I called Nurse Ratched to her face would not give me more morphine post surgery despite my enormous pain – my husband called the surgeon at home and it was swiftly taken care of.

    5 – nurses are your friends – they will go to bat for you as much as they are able. with the exception of the two I mentioned above the rest of the nurses I had were fabulous (and they didn’t respect the ones I fired either)

  4. Unsinkable Citizen, unfortunately you and your credit is screwed IMO. You might wish to consult an attorney to see if you have a case, but in the meantime you might as well pay off the bill as I’m sure the interest is huge.

  5. But, how do you fight this?…
    Currently I have a bill that went to collections because it remained unpaid.
    The surgeon billed for a second doctor. I reported it to the insurance company when I got their report– they paid their portion anyway. Six months later, I got the actual bill for my portion… I immediately called the hospital and respectfully told them that there was no second surgeon in the OR.
    (To be honest, I wouldn’t have minded paying the actual surgeon more money), but it galls me to make a $500 payment to a doctor that was not in the room! (The billing doctor is actually retired). The surgeon’s practice is co-owned by the hospital which is doing the billing.
    So, after calling the hospital every month (they would re-send the bill), and explaining the story– the bill went to collections.
    What is the next best step?
    Thanks in advance for your insight and advice.

    1. Stop calling and start writing. You need to have documentation of your efforts to protest this bill. Contact both the hospital and the collection agency in writing. Send it certified mail. I remember there was a case from way back when about someone who successfully prevailed against having their credit rating damaged. One of the parties, I believe was Dunn & Bradstreet. You may wish to have an attorney send a letter to the hospital’s attorney. That will get a lot more attention. Good luck.

  6. slohrss29, you bring up important questions – WHO would provide oversight? Right now we have corporados in charge of the FDA and virtually every other government organization. That’s why only the VA and Medicare can negotiate drug prices (which will go out the window if TPP passes) right now. Legally we cannot even order drugs from Canada or other countries although many do.

    And our drugs – particularly generics are often produced in unregulated/unsafe conditions – remember the Renbaxy nightmare. It’s totally consumer beware – when I am prescribed a generic I research as best I can to find out which company manufactures said medicine and where and ensure my meds come from a reputable manufacturer. But that’s not failproof. Often the ingredients are not standardized and/or I cannot locate the information. My pharmacy dreads my visits =)

    I guess my point is that we need MORE government inspectors — and we need to limit the influence of Big Pharma lobbyists. Hound like hell all of our Congress members who take bribes, whoops, I mean donations, from these rapacious corporations.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ranbaxy-whistleblower-reveals-how-he-exposed-massive-pharmaceutical-fraud/

    1. I replied to your post Autumn, but WordPress must have been hungry. It does that now and then.

      Synopsis: Think you have a pretty good idea. Don’t think humans can administer themselves. Need to hire Vogons. Not much help, really. Sorry for that.

  7. Stan Brock founded RAM (Remote Area Medical) initially to help indigenous peoples in Guyana who had no access to medical care. When he moved back to the U.S. he realized that there are millions of people here – in the richest country on earth! – who also had 0 or limited access to medical care. His organization helps people all over the US – the clinics are run by medical volunteers.

    He started out in Appalachia, but now does clinics in metropolitan areas like Vegas and LA. It is heartrending as they can only take so many patients. Most arrive the night before and sleep in their cars so they can get in line and receive a ticket.

    RAM site: https://ramusa.org/

    1. Thanks again for this, Autumn. I haven’t heard about him for a while. I know he was in WV (which is the next hill over from me) a good bit helping out. Another example of what we are up against. We have a receding economy here in Appalachia, and a health system that is struggling to get by. It is a well-known fact that the president has lined his pockets while here, and the board of the hospital travels abroad for it’s yearly “meeting.” If there wasn’t a government (well, AMA and such) requirement for base service prices, I think the industry would transform itself in time. Problem is, I believe that would be a long term burden for consumers until the market sorted itself out.
      Gotten more anti-government in my advancing years.

  8. Limited deterrent? How about a whopping fine for such providers who engage in such blatant and obvious fraudulent charges? How about stringent penalties for what appear to be pattern of such obviously bogus practices? Of course there are deterrents–a myriad of them. What doesn’t exist is the will to enforce the rules, as there are too many people benefiting from such purported mistakes. When it becomes uncomfortable, so to speak, to repeatedly engage in such fraudulent conduct–where the repercussions are substantial–these practices would cease to exist.

  9. This is fraud, pure and simple. The district attorney should be looking at criminal charges against the hospital CEO and CFO.

  10. I see a notice on every explanation of services I receive from my insurance company, which asks that I report any overcharges or charges for services not actually received. That’s a problem because both the bill from the hospital and the statement from the insurance company list only codes. They no longer list the actual services being charged for in a way that has any meaning for someone who is not a medical coder. If they really want to stop or reduce over billing, then they need to require that the bills received by the patients list the actual services they are being charged for.

    1. Good point Sierra Rose. I know the codes are a pain for the physicians too. It’s pretty much like the Python skit the professor posted–only worse. Hate to say it, this is a problem only free market can fix, people have to have the ability to choose, and there should be choices in healthcare, not funneled through a code-laden flow chart designed to maximize profits. Interesting article recently in Popular Mechanics, or
      … Science, whichever. Short shot–patient was dying from MRSA-based sinus infection, went to uranoslavakia, or wherever, did a 10-day course of bacteriophage treatment for a few bills, no more MRSA, good to go. Been reading about bacteriophages for quite a while. Seems to me there’s not much room for big profit margins on the stuff, so we ain’t interested here. Karen could probably explain this much better than me.

      1. slohrss29 – my doctor was telling me they had added at least a third more codes since Obamacare. It is costing all of the offices money to track them. A single practictioner cannot afford to practice anymore because of the computer costs.

        1. Paul,

          Locally almost all family practioners and internists have had to join one of the three hospitals as employees (they call ’em partners) precisely because of excessive documentation requirements for all of the insurance companies and Medicare/Medicaid to survive. The doctors and nurse practitioners / physicians assistants are now under pressure — the time they spend with patients is monitored, they have to use computers and type when talking to patients and I suspect they are evaluated on how many tests they order. My long term doc got so fed up he quit the field of medicine altogether – of course he was in a position to be able to do so – most do not have that option.

          And I am lucky that my current doc now ignores the rules and has somehow survived – at least thus far.

      2. slohrs, I respectfully disagree that the free market can fix the medical situation. We need single payer with oversight. The insurance companies need to disappear – why do we have a middle man interfering in our health care? The insurance execs make millions by denying us procedures we need. Every year we pay more in premiums and get less as deductibles and out of pocket fees increase. Get rid of the parasites who add nothing to the equation. They funded Obamacare – the single payer people were arrested and thrown out of the deliberations. My family doc left private practice and went to work at the VA – why? Because the premiums for her own insurance has climbed so high as she has children.

        Physicians for a National Health Program:

        http://www.pnhp.org/

        1. I totally understand where you’re coming from Autumn. My point however, is that who will be in charge of this oversight? As we see, we have alot of oversight on banking, drugs, energy (the nuclear industry–we’re going to learn all about that one of these days I’m afraid). It has transformed our government into a corporatist situation, where the industry people go through the government revolving door. They represent the industries, not us. My in-laws were medical professionals. My father-in-law has many stories about how government interferes way back when. There is no perfect solution, but, as we have seen, more government doesn’t necessarily help out.
          Oh yeah… revolving door…. the defense industry, silly for me to miss that one.
          Also, once again, the insurance companies (similar to the student loan deal) are enabled by the overreach of government. If government didn’t mandate certain prices, things would change in a hurry.
          Also, a good note from you below on the medical travel thing. Free market at it’s best there. I have read just about all good (except one bad one in India), especially in SE Asia. They work–hard for the opportunity to provide service and realize if they slip up, the ramifications are huge. They don’t have a safety net of a captive market.

    2. Sierra Rose,

      You can look up the codes online and ask them to recode it. It takes a bit of time but it usually worth it in terms of $$

  11. Our ER doctors’ charges are based on the diagnosis. I made three trips to the ER for the same problem. The first two trips I was diagnosed with a staph infection and given a prescription for antibiotics. The third time I was diagnosed with reaction to bug bites and given a prescription for an anti-inflammatory. In each case, the work done by the ER drs was identical except for what was written on the prescription pad. Those who incorrectly diagnosed and prescribed for the staph infection charged more than the one who got it right. And never mind what happens to your body when you get two prescriptions for antibiotics, one right after the other and the second stronger than the first.

    1. BettyKath, my suggestion to you is find another ER if you can. Sounds like it has incompetent people staffing it.

  12. It was actually a fine for blocking the fire lane during delivery and the subsequent valet parking costs afterwards. The billing department didn’t have a corresponding account to bill under so they used the standard Obstetrics sub-accounts.

    There, fixed it. Will that be cash or check?

    1. Olly, I appreciate your dark sense of humor. And generally if one pays cash/check they offer a 10% discount – I learned this last week when I had a tooth extracted and had already exhausted my annual dental insurance benefits.

  13. After a few years, I thought I would come forth with full candor:

    https://jonathanturley.org/2014/08/02/a-heart-attack-and-the-numbers/

    For those two years ago who remember this article, the subject was actually me as the patient. The hospital billed just under what I paid for my house for my cardiac issues. It is astounding how much just a five hour procedure plus a few days in hospital can nearly equal the price I paid for my house, (something I worked for many years and many years in the future to pay off). I don’t have any flowery English to put it to words,it is entirely a tragedy to see what Americans are forced to endure because of medical billing.

    I long for the day where if those having no insurance, which I was fortunate to have at the time of my heart attack, does not mean a patent will be consigned to a quarter million dollar debt for just a few hours of surgery and a few days in hospital.

    1. First, and foremost, I’m so glad you recovered and hope you’ve returned to full health.

      Second, this is one of the reasons why health insurance is so high.

      We’ve got to rein in the costs of health care. On the one hand, one of the drivers of the high price of medicine is that insurance in a sense subsidizes it. Knowing they have access to deep pockets, they charge more. This drives up the cost of devices, prescription drugs, and every other aspect of medicine. Even the cost of malpractice insurance goes up because the premiums are still payable as long as the doctor can charge enough.

      On the other hand, insurance and its mega billions also represent funding for research and development. If a drug will make money, a company will spend millions of dollars and a decade going through the FDA to develop it, on a road littered with all the failures.

      So I don’t have easy answers about reducing the cost of healthcare, besides trimming fraud and overfilling. Insurance is just one aspect of health care. The overall cost of service, which insurance has to pay, is atrocious. But we have two paradoxically opposing forces. On the one hand, there is the driver for higher and higher wages, higher minimum wage, better benefits…while on the other there is the intense need to bring down the cost of goods and services, most importantly health care.

      Here is an interesting article explaining why drug prices are so low in Canada. It is essentially similar to the price discrimination we see in Medicare. Providers can afford to accept the lower payments of Medicare because they are blended in with the higher paying employer insurance policies. The same holds true for drugs sold in Canada. They have strict price controls. US companies are happy to sell there, because at least they can cover more than the cost of making the pill, just not the costs of R&D. They recoup that by selling drugs in the US and elsewhere that does not have price controls.

      But having similar price controls here would mean that companies could not recover R&D cost, which can be staggering. It has been proposed that the government could turn this aspect of health care, prescription drug development and manufacture, socialist, completely taking over the industry. Just remember, however, that the cost of producing a single drug is many millions of dollars. And there are many failures before there is a success. It tends to be market driven, which means that drugs tend to be made for large markets first and foremost, with orphan disorders getting considerably less attention and funding. Were our government to take over the pharmaceutical industry, it would cost us trillions. I cannot imagine how high taxes would have to be to cover R&D for every single drug out there. Plus they would have to seize all assets, patents, facilities, and key employees of current drug companies to get hold of the current revenue stream.

      http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2000/05/why_do_drugs_cost_less_in_canada.html

      I think one way to get the cost of medicine down is to somehow improve and economize the FDA process of drug approval, which can be dicey, because it’s onerous for a reason.

  14. She should question the bill. Actually you should go over every bill from your hospital. They bill for air.

  15. I can’t imagine the insurance company will pay it. I’m a federal employee and we always get notices of what our insurer paid, along with a request to review the charges and report any overcharges to a toll-free number. But this story reminds me of when my younger sister was born in 1967. She was born before the doctor even entered the room, but he still sent my parents a bill. My dad had insurance through his union, so he let them deal with it.

  16. I was in the hospital for several days for pnuemonia. All I ever saw was a lump-sum bill for $89,552.50 from the hospital. (Doctors billed separately.) There was a “plan discount” of $72,188.15 and insurance paid $17,364.35. I don’t even kow how to respond to that.

    1. If Rick Scott ever ran for President his scum baggery and corruptness would eclipse a thousand Trumps and Clintons. Now that would be a circus. The guy defrauded US taxpayers of $250mil, sold the company he created that did the defrauding for $350mil and then used the money to buy the Florida Governorship, twice. Scott took the 5th over two dozen times when investigated. “Did you know about your company, the one you created, defrauding the US government?” “I take the 5th.”, two dozen times. Trump admires Scott. Scott is sort of a mentor to Trump.

  17. Hopefully this is a medical cost capture error during data entry somewhere along the line. If the hospital presses the matter it will lose and be further embarrassed.

Comments are closed.