To the Doctors, Nurses, and Hospitals That Treated Us So Well

Thank you all for the exceptional care you showed my wife and our baby before, during, and after his birth. For all the poetic, beautiful things that are said about the miracle of bringing new life into the world, it comes with a great deal of stress and your professionalism, expertise, and compassion let us really enjoy the experience of meeting our son.

It is because you cared so well for us over the past year that it pains me horribly to tell you that you probably won’t be getting paid for your services. It’s not that I don’t think what you did is worth the money. Without question, it was. It’s simply a matter of right and wrong.

You see, my wife and I both have good jobs. Both of our jobs offer us generous benefits and we went into the hospital with two group insurance policies, either one of which would be the envy of many who are less fortunate. Sadly, these two insurance companies have, after four months, 61 emails, and 37 phone calls, failed to come to a resolution on which of them should be responsible for what portion of each of your bills.

So now you’re calling us. You’re telling us that you can’t wait anymore for our insurance companies to pay you, so you’re going to transfer the balance of our accounts into the column reserved for the irresponsible and indigent. The “Patient’s Responsibility, In Default” column. And that is, I suppose, your prerogative. There is nothing I can do about it.

But the simple fact is that my employer has paid tens of thousands of dollars over the course of four years to United Healthcare and my wife’s company pays good money to Aetna so that when the skills and facilities you offer are needed, I don’t have to worry about how to pay for it. And that they have taken this money from us and, to a much greater extent, from our employers and refused to pay the bills when the time came is, frankly, not my problem. And as much as I wish you could receive full remuneration for your efforts, you’re not going to get it from me. To write you that check would be to set a precedent for insurers that it’s ok to fail to live up to their obligation in spite of the client’s diligence and responsibility. It would make me party to fraud.

I know you’re angry. I would be too. But I ask you to remember this. Seven years ago Congress sat down to work out a fix to our broken healthcare system. I didn’t receive an invitation to that table. You did. Your industry’s lobbyists sat with lobbyists from the pharmaceutical companies and the insurance companies. They devised a new set of rules that met your industries’ needs. So whatever flaw in the law allows Aetna and United Healthcare to take premiums month after month and then simply decide not to pay claims isn’t my fault. Your lobbyists, in signing off on the bill that eventually passed, agreed to whatever donut hole I’ve found myself in.

Do feel free to call Aetna and United Healthcare to discuss your bills with them. They know who you are. They’ve had your bills on their desks for months now. I’m sure they’ll take your call. Maybe you’ll get somewhere with them.

If not, thank you again for all that you’ve done for us. I will always hold you in high regard, even if you choose to take me to court. I’ll never take it personally. But nothing will ever get me to pay you a dime more than what the terms of my two insurance policies dictate I should have.

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