We wanted to give an update on Jason’s rattlesnake account so here it is.
It has almost been a year since Jason, got bit by a rattlesnake on his foot and spent 3 days in the hospital (2 in ICU) with another ER trip 3 weeks after . I thought it would be a good time, while I have the time, to give a brief update on how he is doing and on the financial impact on our family caused by the medical bills.
First, a great big thank you to everyone for praying. There were literally hundreds of people, spread out all over the world, praying for Jason. “let your requests be made known unto the Lord” and “pray without ceasing” were definitely invoked on our behalf.
Secondly, a great big thank you to all those who donated financially. We had so many people drop off money from amounts of $50 to $1,000 to help pay medical bills. During this time, we also had to finish paying a midwife and a dentist for Jason’s root canal (that he had 2 days before the snake bite, yes, he had a bad weekend).
One of the amazing things about the medical bills is that we told very few people how much the actual bill was. We weren’t trying to hid the amount but we also didn’t want to advertise it so we figured if people wanted to know they would ask. I will try and give a brief description of how those medical bills were taken care of by the Lord.
We didn’t have insurance. The doctors charge separately from the hospital. Therefore, we had bills from the individual doctors, the bloodwork bill from the hospital, all the follow up bloodwork, the ultrasound bill, and the bill from the hospital as well as the ER bill from the second hospital. (8-9 bills total) Before any discount for being uninsured, the bills came to a total of about $190,000. The hospital bill from where Jason was treated was the bulk of the bill at $182,000. Through all the donations we received as well as the discounts from the individual doctors and the discount for the after care bloodwork through the clinic at Jason’s work, and a little bit of savings, we were able to pay all but 3 of the bills. The last three bills were the 2 individual hospital bills and one of the doctors. We decided to negotiate all three of those bills. Thankfully, Jason had a resource with which to help him. He had bought a book titled, “How to Survive Hospital Costs Without Insurance“. The premise of the book is basically (1) Hospitals never tell us in advance how much something is going to cost. In essence they are asking us to sign a blank check. (2) Insurance companies negotiate with hospitals in advance, to get reduced prices. This means hospitals might have dozens of different rates they regularly charge for the same service. The author’s research indicates Blue Cross Blue Shield, for example, often pays only 12 cents for every dollar billed by the hospital! (3)Holding hospitals to an objective third party standard is perfectly lawful and reasonable, and, with the knowledge of how to lawfully contract/negotiate in good faith, it is possible to get the same price breaks that insurance companies get.
It was now time for Jason to put what he had read into practice. Many nights of research, reading, letter writing and often staying up until 4 a.m. to get a certified letter out on time while keeping meticulous records and copies of all correspondence, led to the small ER bill being settled for 1/4 of the price (which we were able to pay for through donations) and the other two bills (the doctor and the main hospital bill which had been reduced to 109,000) being dropped by the hospital/doctor, rather than negotiating/settling with us. We never had to pay on either of them. It is a little involved to explain the process of how all that happened but here is a very basic summary: Over a period of 6-8 months we sent many certified letters asserting the Hospital provide simple things like a breakdown of the charges, and evidence of a third party standard to base their charges( in one letter we made a binding offer to agree to cover any extra administrative cost they might incur in providing evidence of the third party standard). Our letters also included asserting a reasonable time limit to respond to our inquiries, and asserting that they only communicate with us in writing to avoid possible misunderstandings, and asserting that if they had any objections to what we were asking for and stating, they needed to let us know in a timely manner and not harbor objections which to surprise us later.. We also sent several generous conditional payment offers (checks/payment plans that would eventually expire if they didn’t cash/accept them) that they could settle for in lieu of their not providing the the third party standard, and they had several months to consider or accept these or re-negotiate OR provide us with evidence of a third party standard for their charges. We were very prompt and timely in communication with them, however one stopped communicating with us, while another had a law firm send us a letter. When we responded to the law firm with a letter quoting several things from a law dictionary and asking some pertinent questions, and included a certified copy of all the correspondence between us and the hospital, the law firm subsequently disappeared never to be heard from again. Eventually, we sent an official notice of default on the bill, inviting the hospital to dispute the default, which they did not do. I do want to make it clear that our intent the whole time was to pay the bill, but, we wanted to know the prices they were charging for the service.
We learned a lot in the process about how messed up the business side of hospital care really is. and discovered some doctors who truly call things as they are, including Dr. Keith Smith of the Surgery Center of Oklahoma. See several of his following video commentaries for some interesting commentary. Episode 3: “The Story of the $100 hospital aspirin” , Episode 3 (Part 2): “The higher the hospital charge, the more the PPO makes“, Episode 3 (Part 3): “Understanding the lies hospitals tell to make money .
We are so thankful for the guidance of the above mentioned book as well as the access we had to ask questions of the author via a forum once we had bought the book, as well as all the money that people donated through the leading of the Lord. It started to become a little bit of a joke because every time we received a donation, within a day or two, we would receive a bill.
Our savings are basically gone but my husband is here, we are still out of debt, and our credit record is preserved What a blessing!!
How is Jason physically? Well, he still has random pain. Sometimes his foot will have an ache in it for 30 minutes or so and he says the pain travels. It is usually in his heel or at the location of the bite. We haven’t found a reason for the pain. He hasn’t started running on it yet but he is planning on starting soon. We had a follow up blood test about a month ago and everything looked good. We will plan on doing another blood test in 6 months. If that one is fine, it will probably be the last one.