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Even with insurance, hospital bills can leave you bankrupt (1 of 2)

If you have ever suffered an unexpected serious illness or injury, you probably worried that you were going to wind up in the hospital again after receiving the bills for your treatment.

Finding out that you owe thousands upon thousands of dollars in bills that seem to keep arriving every day is enough to make anyone feel like they could suffer a heart attack or nervous breakdown.

The fact of the matter is that hospitalization is so extremely expensive these days, and this can still be the case even if you have health care coverage.

A 29-year-old Wisconsin resident learned this last year after having a freak heart attack and being rushed to the closest hospital for treatment. The woman was clinically dead upon arrival and had to b e placed in a medically induced coma for 10 days.

Miraculously, the woman recovered from her major health scare, but rather than relishing her second chance at life, she is battling bankruptcy because of the huge medical bills stemming from the incident.

Even after her health insurance coverage was applied, the woman’s hospital bills amounted to nearly $100,000 because the hospital where the woman had been treated was not in her insurance provider’s network.

The hospital ending up reducing the woman’s bill by about 90 percent (see our posts last week on negotiating lower medical bills), but the woman was still financially ruined because of the many other clinicians she owed such as private doctors and anesthesiologists.

Adding frustration to the woman’s situation was the fact that an in-network hospital was located just three blocks away from where she was taken by ambulance.

The woman said she doesn’t blame paramedics for taking her to the “wrong” hospital since they helped save her life. Thankfully, the bankruptcy process will offer her another second chance, this time financially.

However, patient advocates say far too many people are finding themselves in similar situations thanks to the over-billing tendencies of hospitals. We will discuss more on that in our next post, so stay tuned. 

Source:, “Woman faces bankruptcy after being taken to wrong hospital,” Brooks Hays, Nov. 12, 2014

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