blue-cross-2.jpgBoy who knew writing about my medical bills was going to start a fad.

As I said before, I just thought everyone knew that when you had a catastrophic illness you wound up with huge bills despite being “fully insured,” with your insurance company working overtime to find reasons to deny your claims. “Out of network,” “in excess of usual and customary” or “not medically necessary” are the mechanisms they use to keep you paying. And paying. And paying.

So I thought I’d share yet another one. The bill at the left is from another doctor. The “your responsibility to pay” portion — $5,336.13. So just in case anyone was thinking that the bill for $15,684.94 was some kind of anomaly, lemme tell ya — I got a box full of ’em.

For anybody keeping count, this is in excess of the $11,000 I had to pay in “out of pocket” expenses last year, as well as this year (because my treatment fell across two calendar years), and the $307 per month I pay for the insurance in the first place. And the $4000 test I mentioned that which diagnosed my breast cancer that has been deemed “not medically necessary?” I checked and I was wrong. The bill is for $4500.

Our good friend Maura from MLN spent time taking care of her father before he passed away, and this was her experience:

Even though he had Medicare AND a great supplemental Anthem plan, it still took me dozens of hours every week to fight denials and mistakes and contest crazy bills to the tune of $67,000….and I’m Phi Beta Kappa! How could an elderly person possibly handle it alone? Or someone who is not college educated or doesn’t realize that you CAN and MUST fight the system?

Adding insult to injury, a year after his death, I’ve just gotten a whole set of medical bills for him out of nowhere. Somehow, Anthem BC/BS has retroactively denied him coverage for the month prior to his death.

It infuriates me just to think of how much worry and stress he had to live with unnecessarily — and he’s one of the “lucky” ones with insurance.

This is the rule, not the exception. And these are the “insurance companies” whose delicate feelings we need to spare when coming up with a plan to get Americans the health care they need to stay alive.

The poor dears.

Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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