Monday, October 20, 2014

Nine months dead

We received a brand new, never before seen, medical bill on Friday.  For a single x-ray of Zachary's chest on January 15.  I barely made it to the kitchen island to unload the mail and collapse myself there when I saw the radiologist's return address on the outside of the envelope.  Inside:

Date: 1/15/14
Patient Name: Zachary
Description: Chest Xray
Charges: $156.00
Insurance Pending: $67.00
Patient Balance: $42.92

Payment of account is due within 10 days of receipt of this statement.

Really?!  Nine months.  You took nine months to get this bill to me, and you think it's as simple as writing a check within the next ten days?  

If you could only see what happened to me to see his name in the Patient column.  If you understood that on that Date of Service, my healthy baby was diagnosed with sepsis, something he acquired in the healthcare environment in which your technicians practice.  If you only knew how your invoice brought back the feelings of full expectation I still had for him on that Date of Service, the fear that began to grip me over the course of that day as his condition worsened.  They had to intubate my baby that day!  By the end of that day, there was so much intervention where there had been so little.  Your technicians had to come back several times, that day and until the day he died, to scan his lungs and abdomen.  If you could just understand that it was the (official) beginning of the end for my Zachary.     

I have paid you so much already.  For something like 30 x-rays and scans combined.  I spent months combing through his medical bills, making pained calls to you and others, after which I would sob and scream and sob some more.  It drained me.  But, I paid all of them.  All of them.  After I assumed that all of the bills were paid, all were reconciled with the insurance company, it took me a few more months just to file them away.  To file away the precious evidence that my son was here for two weeks and needed medical care. 

None of your scans or x-rays, none of your measuring or calculating, saved him.  And still, and of course, I paid all of his bills. 

But, you must stop this nonsense now.  Please flag Zachary's patient account file folder, your electronic files, with a big fat DEAD.  He is dead.  He has been dead for nine months today.  I will not be paying any more tardy bills for my dead son. 


  1. It pains me to think of how awful that had to be for you Gretchen. I'm so, so very sorry you had to experience that today.

  2. Another slap in the face to come on an anniversary day. I'm sorry mama. Sending love and light and hugs cause there's nothing else I can do. xxx Em

  3. oh, i am so sorry you had to deal with that. And on a day already filled with emotions and grief (not to say they aren't all).
    I often get angry at the US health-care system on behalf of my friends but today, this makes me especially angry.
    Thinking of you and Zachary. xx

  4. Beyond cruel. I can't imagine what it must have cost you to make all those calls, to settle all those payments. For it to be carrying on now is simply awful.