February 21, 2018

What the Hospital Said

The response to our GoFundMe for Dan's medical expenses has been both incredibly humbling and extremely encouraging. So far we've raised nearly $3500 to cover medical and other expenses. I wish you all could see the difference it's making in Dan. To have so many people we've never met respond so willingly and generously has given him hope. And to have so many people praying for him has given him peace of mind.

Yesterday Dan talked to the billing office at our local hospital. This is the first one we went to and have been billed $3554.42 for the initial emergency care of his fingers (my original blog post here.) He hoped to get the bill down to a manageable size, but the most they would discount it was $1066.30 which brings it down to $2488.02. If he paid in full on the spot, they'd give him an addition 10% off and accept $2239.21. We still don't know what the second ER will charge, so Dan set up a minimal payment schedule for that first bill. Once we have an idea of the combined totals, we'll have a better idea of how far we have to spread our funds.

What we have paid, is the GP and the hand surgeon, both in full so that's behind us. Also Dan made a decision about the options the surgeon gave him. In my update last Sunday, I shared that he was given two possibilities. He was told he could let the one finger heal as is, with no knuckle and compromised functionality, or have it amputated at the knuckle. The finger is very much alive; he has feeling, blood flow, and movement (albeit limited at this time), so he decided against the amputation. It didn't make much sense to pay for an appointment just to tell them he wasn't going to have the surgery, so he canceled it.

Several of you mentioned about applying for financial assistance, and have been able to utilize such programs yourselves. When Dan spoke with the hospital billing office he was given an application for that, and I'm curious as to what you all think about the information they want.

The first page discusses eligibility. Uninsured patients between 100 and 200% of the federal poverty level apply. For two persons that's between $16,460 and $32,920. Our combined incomes fall easily within that range, so we're eligible. What could they need, I thought, except proof of income and perhaps some information on things like mortgage payments and other bills. I was wrong. Here's what's required to apply.

For all members of the household (not just the responsible party) they want photocopies of:
  • drivers license or photo ID
  • social security cards
  • 4 weeks of pay stubs
  • social security income verification
  • food stamp verification
  • self-employment or business verification
  • utility bill
  • car insurance statement
  • voter registration
  • 3 months worth of bank statements for checking, savings, IRA/401k, and PayPal accounts
  • any other information on request

I confess this was something of a jaw-dropper for me. When Dan was discharged from the second ER a financial aid application was included in his paperwork. They wanted occupation of patient and spouse, income, bank balances, value of home, and unpaid mortgage balance. All of that seems logical. This one, on the other hand, does not. Unless there's the possibility that my great-grandmother lives with us and receives a small SS check each month, then they would use that as part of our eligibility formula? Or if someone has teenagers working to save for college, their personal savings is considered fair game for their parent's hospital bill? Or are they trying to deter people in need from applying? Keep people in poverty? Sorry, but the information they want seems a tad overreaching. What do you think?

Next time I'll give you an update on Dan's progress and what we're doing at home to encourage healing.

What the Hospital Said © Feb 2018 by Leigh


Gorges Smythe said...

Prayed again. Some folks don't even HAVE some of those things.

Gorges Smythe said...

You should include this ( https://www.gofundme.com/DanielTate ) in every post.

Judy said...

Every asset you have is 'fair game' for them to attach and liquidate to cover the bill. You guys are probably best off negotiating with each billing office for a payment plan. Don't know about Tennessee but in Kansas so long as you are paying them 'something' they have to accept it.

Praying that you and Dan find a workable solution to the monetary end of it, as well as for Dan's hand to heal, with as much functionality as possible.

Sharon in Surrey said...

I'm so glad I live in Canada. We might have to wait months in line for non-emergency treatment but no one gets bankrupted to pay for that treatment. Hang in there. I think I agree with Judy - you might be better off in the end by negotiating with each billing department than give someone all that information.

Kris said...

It's so unfair. Let some big-wig apply for a non-secured risky bank loan and they rubber stamp it (probably knowing he'll default/file for chapter/or stiff 'em). Let someone without leverage try to get assistance/loan and they want your first-born. I'm so sorry that because you're not rich that they want to own all your info. I hope you can raise the funds you need through the GoFundMe campaign and save yourself this unwarranted prostration! It galls me the way things are. Know that we're all here with you and are praying for you and Dan every day. Take heart. Kris

Gayla said...

Wow. Ho.ly.cow.When I suggested to use the hospital assistance I had no idea that the amount of info they wanted, had changed. Please forgive my ignorance. I guess it would depend where we are in life. If we could handle monthly payments and do ok, I would do that. Wow. Prayers your way.

Mama Pea said...

Seeing RED this morning (grrr!) with this information you've shared. Control, control, control. Just another step to DIScourage folks from keeping self-respect and living life as the Constitution of the United States set forth.

As soon as you figure out this financial blip (not to make small of it) in the best way for the two of you, I have a feeling Dan will start to heal rapidly. He's strong and will do everything to make that happen. With your wonderful care and support, of course!

Also still sending support in the ways we are able.

Woolly Bits said...

weird that - I can understand that they want infos about your financial status, but why on earth would they want to know about your voter's registration??? do you have to tell them what party you stand for as well? how about body weight and bra size, while they're at it?:( though I remember that my sister needed assistance for a while (germany) and she would have had to add my parents' financial situation in detail to get there! in the end my parents would have had to help with pay anyway - so they decided to help my sister out directly without the state nosing into their lives:( sometimes I think they try to make people feel even worse than they already do!:(
anyway, I do hope that the gofundme works out for you, it's looking good already! and all the best for Dan of course and may his hand heal quickly!
Bettina (from ireland, where the health system has lots of faults, but at least we don't have to pay for emergencies like that if below a certain income - like Sharon in canada)

Leigh said...

Gorges, good idea. And thank you for continued prayer support. It makes a difference.

Judy, stinks, doesn't it? It's almost as though they think poor people have some big wad of dough stashed somewhere and that they just want to rip off the system. We may be poor, but we do have at least a shred of dignity, so we won't apply for their aid. It's true here too that as long as we pay at least something they're fine. Once we have the totals we'll pay off as much as we can, and when Dan can go back to work we'll try to get it paid off as quickly as possible.

Sharon, the problem is, if they take away everything a family has when they have a true crises, then that family can never work their way out of government dependence. They'll have to turn around and apply for aid elsewhere. Or maybe they don't really want anyone applying. At least it seems that way.

Kris, well said! But then, everything in this nation is truly set up for the benefit of the wealthy. Unfortunately a person's worth is based on their income or the amount of money they have. Which means the poor have no value as persons. Don't get me wrong, I'm not in favor of the so-called equalization of wealth some people want. I just don't believe in kicking a body when it's down.

Physicalscience, I deleted your comment after I realized your blog was just a bogus cover for taking anonymous potshots at folks. Shame on you.

Gayla, you have no need to apologize! It was definitely something we needed to explore and that was just this one hospital. The other asked for reasonable information, I thought. We were still able to set up a nominal payment plan and we can always pay more, which we plan to do once Dan can go back to work. I will say that it did not give me a very good impression of this hospital and that I would choose a different one in the future.

Mama Pea, thanks! You're right that this kind of thing discourages people from working toward being a better and more productive citizen. They can only take away so much before people start to give up.

Bettina, LOL, love how you put that. I hadn't thought about the voter's registration, but you may be right. Party affiliation is a love-you-or-hate-you point for a lot of people nowadays. Even if we had insurance, the deductible would be so high that it wouldn't have covered it. So we'd still be in the same boat.

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

How complicated life can get in just a moments time. Still praying for yous. Nancy

Val said...

Hi Leigh,
I don't know if you remember me? Val the police dispatcher in Canada?

I suffered a baby finger tip amputation in 1995..from a wood splitter. Not as bad as Dan's injury in one way but baby nonetheless. The pain is incredible but it got better. In my case the end was off so that caused the nerve over reaction and the brain could not process the information properly. However it got better over awhile. I did my own therapy including ball squeezing and lightly rubbing it on denim and other fabrics to help my brain understand that it still worked. I couldn't do anything tho until the skin granulated over the open bone and that took at least 8 weeks. Anyway, more than you wanted to know but I wanted to let you know that I am still here although retired. I did donate and shared your post because people with finger injuries need to stick together. If I can help in any way I am here.

Tim B. Inman said...

They are looking for people who have assets but are hiding them so the rest of us can pay their bills! Don't fight it, just offer whatever evidence they ask for. If you don't, you lose for sure. There are people who have assets in other states and who live out of their closely held corporations that want the rest of us to pay their bills. We need universal health care in this country, and how bad does it have to get before we do it? Good luck.

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

Crikey Leigh ! Have been out of blogland recently so didn't know about Dan's hand. I am about to do a new post with an article about healthcare and was going to ask my US friends if the article was accurate. seems it was! Please pass on my best wishes to dan for a speedy recovery

Rain said...

What the heck do they need with your voter registration???? That's over the top...but honestly Leigh, I'd bite the bullet and fill everything out if you can get financial assistance on this one, but that's just me. I could never even afford a $2000 bill. The way you describe the hospital saying you'll get a 10% discount if you pay today...sounds like a used car dealership. yeesh.

Judy said...

Rain - it's a real indication of what the true bill was. They took a third off with, probably, a minimal fight and then offered another 10% on top of that.

They pad the bill to cover losses from people walking away from their debt or filing bankruptcy because of the size of the bill. The other part is pure profit so they can pay dividends on shares and bonuses.

Unknown said...

Hello, one thing I am sure they would take into account is the gofundme donations as part of your income. I agree, just negotiate a minimum payment plan, even though I think that they could charge you interest as part of that. The surgeons I used to work for would accept payments if they were regular. If you missed, it was one and a half percent interest.

Leigh said...

Nancy, too complicated! Thank you for the prayers!

Val, yes I remember you! So good to hear from you and can't tell you how grateful we are for your donation. Wow, what a story you have. Not too much information, but actually helps us understand our own circumstances. Knowing there was 8 weeks involved for your body to do some of the repair is helpful too. I think every day Dan hopes for faster progress and finds it hard to be patient.

Tim, we need something! A lot of folks think that what we have is universal heath care, but what we have is mandatory health insurance by for-profit investment companies, with no guarantee that they will actually pay one's claim. The irony, is that even if we had coverage the deductible is so high that all of this would still be out of pocket anyway. Instead we pay the Obamacare penalty and get nothing for it. Apparently the hospital would take what I've saved up for that and leave us to incur even more IRS penalties! As far as the information they want, even though we're poor we still have a shred of dignity. The fact they they automatically assume poor folks are dishonest doesn't inspire confidence and trust. We plan to stick with the minimum payment schedule and try to pay it off as quickly as we can.

Gill, than you! I'll be interested in reading that blog post! Also interested in comments to it.

Rain, good question! And I have no clue as to the answer. Judy's absolutely right, and the problem is that the higher they raise prices, fewer people will be able to afford it, which means more of them end up dropping out. Forbes did an analysis that found that 80% of the people paying the tax penalty are families making under $50,000 per year. Dan and I are old, so I realize that society places little economic value on us, but these are families with children. The whole system is a disgrace. As far as applying for the aid, Dan and I will just stick to the minimum payments and try to get it paid as quickly as we can. We don't like debt and already know how to tighten our belts. I confess that handing over all that personal information to these folks is a concern. How can I trust someone who has no respect for the unfortunate and assumes we're all dishonest? I can't.

Judy, you hit the nail on the head.

Samantha, I'm sure you're right about that, and I'm also sure that they wouln't take into account the other ER, x-ray, pharmacy, and doctor bills. Good thing we refused the ambulance to transfer him between hospitals! The minimal payment is small enough so that we shouldn't have to miss, but we can always pay more.

Paula said...

If it were me I would have paid the first ER bill on the spot and taken the discount and then dealt with the second bill later. Otherwise, you're leaving money on the table, and that $1066.30 would have taken a chunk out of that second bill.

As far as the applications go, I think you're suffering a gross invasion of privacy. As long as you're paying something on your bills, and you do it on time, you can't be reported to a credit agency. I had one lab last summer start out with a nastygram in their first bill which irritated my greatly, so rather than pay the whole thing off, which I could have done, I decided to pay a portion and let them bill me, eating into their profit with the extra cost to bill and do the accounting (I paid online, so no postal costs to me). All perfectly ok, and there were no added 'finance fees' to do it. And doing it that way made paying the other lab bills (there were many, like four or five) that didn't include nastygrams a lot easier to manage.

jewlz said...

Voter registration? Absurd! I wouldn't walk away from financial aid, though. Unfortunately, when we take calculated risks, it means we may in the worst case scenario, find ourselves with a bitter pill to swallow.
Jump through a few hoops, leave out the registration all together, and try to amass all the resources you can.

jewlz said...

You might also want to take a look at some of those free financial templates...or make your own..so you can better show that although the bank accnt says "x" the reality is as a small business, basically, that incomes already allocated towards business expenses.. for example, sale of kids goes toward first quarters payment to your yearly feed bill, the same with your monthly contributions to the penalty. I'm so not explaining this well lol. Here I basically made up my own general ledger/journal so I'm sure that what needs funded is being funded. You're not trying to keep a 100 bucks back for a kegger, after all, but have reasonable expenses and income streams that are atypical, but reasonable and justifiable.

Leigh said...

Paula, I agree it's an invasion of privacy, especially since some of the information is irrelevant. We don't have the GoFundMe funds yet, so that's why Dan set up the payment plan. We'd really like to have a total plus know how the second hospital will handle arrangements. If we can, we'll pay the lower amount off first so we only have one payment to deal with.

Jewlz, well, there are no guarantees in life which is why people want insurance. Trouble is, there's no guarantees with insurance either!

Leigh said...

Jewlz, your second comment must have posted while I was writing my replies at the same time! Do you mean a ledger to show the financial office at the hospital? I'm guessing that's why they want utility bills and car insurance statements. The message their application delivers is that they assume we're dishonest, so I doubt they'd take our word for anything!

tpals said...

Wow! I'm a suspicious person and wonder how much of that is information they can sell on.

Will you be leaving a google review? ;)

Brenda said...

And just think of all the illegals getting free health care. Makes your blood boil, doesn't it? My step daughter has two children with an illegal who doesn't want to be legal. He told us that to our faces. He's been here for years. Good decision to keep the finger. I lived in California for years and as long as you pay something each month, even $5.00 they will not come after you. Will pray for you.

Leigh said...

tpals, me too. The legal spiel is that they don't do anything with your information with your permission. But I've worked in both hospitals and doctor offices and know the reality of how easy such information is available. You give permission for your information to be shared with another doctor. They fax it over, where it sits on a table in an open office until a nurse or office worker comes to fish through the pile to get it.

One time we lived where the library changed policy to "require" drivers license and SS number to get a library card. (Quotes because I refused but they didn't take away my card.) To every person they recited the "we won't share your information with anyone" line. BUT, they used these forms to contact people when they had overdue books or requests had come in, so the pile of forms always sat right there at the check out station. You could see the top person's address, license number, address, phone number, and SS number every time you checked out a book. Anyone could have easily pocketed them. It's just all too easy to be thoughtlessly careless.

Brenda, thank you! at first I wondered if the voters registration was to determine citizenship, but figured if someone can get a forged drivers license and SS card, they could get a forged voters registration card too. I dunno. The whole thing just seems like an in-your-face "we've got you" kind of thing.

Chris said...

Not sure of your system, but I expect voters registration, is merely a cross-reference check. Because the govt has to rubber stamp, your residential address to give you that voters registration. Which validates the person applying for the assistance. Some may be able to fudge ID with utility bills, but if the address on your voter's registration, matches your utility bill, then it's legitimate.

I've worked as a paper-pusher before (in Australia) and trust me, they don't want any more paperwork to process, than absolutely necessary. They have to pay by the hour to process them, which eats into their bottom line. Not suggesting it's a great system, and you shouldn't provide information you're not comfortable doing; but it's just a different perspective on why they may be asking for that information.

Anyway, I'm glad your GoFundMe page is doing well. I was hoping it would. :)

Leigh said...

Chris, honestly, their thinking eludes me, especially since they want xerox copies of all this stuff. To get a local library card we had to show a drivers license plus a utility bill with the same address. No one looks at voter registration for anything. I'm probably off my noodle, but the whole thing stinks of making people grovel for help, and I'm not so sure I'd even want to do business with someone who assumed I'm a lying cheat. I've dealt with folks like that (student loans) and later they come back and slap on fines for stuff they make up. Seriously, it only takes one small person on a big power trip to undermine a good program or company.

Anonymous said...

Leigh - been there done that and have TONS of info to share with you:
1) Call the administration at the hospital and ask them "if the HILBURTON FOUNDATION can pay all or part of your bill?" NO ONE WILL VOLUNTEER THIS INFORMATION TO YOU FROM THE HOSPITAL - and get the name right - Hilburton, not Haliburton(that's big oil). It is a foundation established to help low income or no insurance persons help with their hospital bills.
2)FILL OUT THOSE STUPID PAPERS ASAP!!! I never thought I would need the help from any of the services I sent others to when I worked in Housing (HUD - rental assistance division), now here I am taking advantage of all that I can. I have worked (most physically hard)since I was about 12 and got my SS card/number. I (and you 2) have worked and earned everything you are requesting help for. Those tedious papers will help you both get Medcaid which will help TREMENDOUSLY with hospital, doctor, prescriptions, and a ton of other unplanned needs that will pop up when you least expect.
3) Its good you have a Go-Fund-Me page to help - but still do the above 2...save a penny where/when ever you can. But I also suggest you try to set up a "deductible" account once you guys get back into routine. Even just $10 or $20 a mo.put into an H.S.A account will help when needed and be a tax (under current laws - subject to change) deductible.
One last personal item - LEARN ALL YOU CAN ABOUT NATURAL CURES AND REMEDIES...One of the first (and still my best) collection of books is the Foxfire Series. Its how people used to (and some still do) live and thrive in the smokie mountains. A school teacher from NY was transferred into the area and didn't know how to reach the kids. Had them write essays on a family member (who they were, any special or unique things about them and why they were chosen). This was so interesting, the teacher turned it into a book, which led to a series. Detailed. Photos. Very informative and true.
Please feel free to contact me if you need help with more of this. I still have great connections on the local levels that may help you more.
Tell Dan to put a finger guard on his saw (I have one - best advise to me ever as I am a big clutz!) and I hope he is better soon..
(P.S. I have had 3 major joints replaced, 1 gutted and cut, and 1/2 a foot is now metal - I have some thoughts to share on pain relief - no drug - as well, if he needs it.)
Take Care!!
Brush, CO

M.K. said...

Sounds like you two have a plan. I'm glad at least that things are progressing and you've had some help. Regarding that last application/questions, I'm not surprised. Over the years we've used Medicaid often for the kids, and used WIC and I think even Food Stamps once. It's amazing what they ask. I think those are the safe guards to ensure that the system is not being abused. People always say things like the "welfare system" is so easy to get, immigrants, blah blah ... but the fact is, you have to give so much proof of everything, and if you're on an ongoing program like Medicaid, you have to do it over and over again.

Chris said...

LOL, Leigh, absolutely there are those who wreck it for everyone. I've met them on occasion too. I love to speak to their superiors. Pulling on their hierarchical chain, often gets their attitude problem (along with their misinformation) sorted. ;)

I don't know if the hospital is applying for govt subsidies, on your behalf. Which may be why they require such personal information. Financial assistance, not directly available to you - but to them instead, as a profitable organization: with the provision they prove to the govt, applicants are rubber stamped through the govt's own checks.

Generally, this is why govt issued information, is asked for. It allows them to claim write-offs as a tax-deduction, or subsidies claimed for the non-for-profit branches of their business. It requires the govt's own rubber stamped identification of an individual. Otherwise, if they get audited, and that information is not provided, they may have to pay the money back to the govt.

At least that was the process in my paper-pushing days. ;) Not sure if it's the case, here. Just sharing, in case you ever have a conversation with the paper pushers - why they need the information. You can always asks for it's purpose in the application process. As govt information is considered private, and should be protected under law. Your consent to provide it, is not the same as their need to acquire it. Ask them to explain the process of providing govt protected information, to them. They have the responsibility to provide this information to you, if they're asking for your protected information. But only if you want to explore that option further. :)

Sandy Livesay said...


I'm keeping both of you in my prayers. Hospitals, along with all the doctors offices, and specialty departments charge astronmical fees for services. Each of which are negotiable, keep on top of them and don't let them bully you.

Send prayers, hugs, and love to you both.

Leigh said...

Rachel, wow, what a story. You have been through a lot! There's a lot of helpful information in your comment. Thanks. Yes, I am familiar with the Foxfire series. We have a couple of the books in it. My next post will be on our healing routine, so come back in a few days and see what you have to add.

M.K., when my daughter applied for disability and food stamps about a year ago I was there for the interview. But that one wasn't nearly as extensive as this and they took her word for it! We're just trusting that it will all work out as it's supposed to!

Chris, thanks for that. I think I wouldn't have been so suspicious if the financial aid application for the other hospital had been similar. But it was so much simpler and logical that following that, this one seemed over the top. I'm sure they have their rationale, but the only person to talk to is just an office worker without the authority to make decisions or pass you one to someone who can. We consider it the very last bottom of the barrel resort. :)

Sandy, thank you! It's a shame all these costs are so high. I know they keep a lot of people from getting the care they need. We only use them if we absolutely have no other alternative.

deb harvey said...

rachel is a wealth of info.

have you applied for medicaid? our daughter has it.

on the privacy invasion, wait to see what the go fund me adds up to and then do what you did with the first hospital--negotiate.
if you have enough go fund me cash they may discount like the first hospital did for immediate payment.

and there is always the 5$ per month 'til hell freezes over option.

we'd help but the medical $$ here are running us deep in debt, 1500 $ this month. hope next month will let up a bit, and doc's office got a foundation to pay for john's chemotherapy.

love, deb h.

but daughter and i are praying for you both. she loves your kids.
she is quite a knitter and admires your kid sweaters.

Leigh said...

Deborah, I looked into medicaid the first time I was trying to figure out our obamacare penalty. There was something about states that hadn't expanded it which ours hadn't, and which meant that our medicaid only covered children. Even so, we do plan to wait to see how much community help covers. Right now all of that would count against us anyway, even though it's all one time private donations.

Your prayers are appreciated! That's key to this whole thing. Tell your daughter I'll have more baby goat pictures soon. They are truly a bright spot in our lives.

Renee Nefe said...

Sorry for the late answer here...but I would just give them the same info the other hospital asked for.