Shane Phillips, 31, and his girlfriend Kassandra Fleury, 20, gave birth to an infant with special needs. Though covered by health insurance the young couple suddenly found themselves overwhelmed by astronomical medical bills they couldn’t pay.
“Our son Ryder was born with gastroschisis,” Phillips said. “That’s a condition where his small intestine is sticking out of the side of his body.”
With good prenatal care a routine ultrasound discovered a small tear in Ryder’s umbilical cord five months into gestation. A biophysical profile revealed his distended intestine protruding through the opening. Insured through Group Health Cooperative under her mother’s policy Kassandra was hospitalized two weeks in advance of her due date. Despite his serious condition Ryder was getting the care he needed for a successful delivery.
“But when he was born we went to all three hospitals in Madison within 48 hours,” Phillips said. “And with all that going on I got the first bill for something like $180,000.”
To put it mildly, access to quality health care is complicated. The intricate details of insurance coverage can often pose an impenetrable barrier between patients and the medical treatments they need to survive. Even those who currently have insurance can find it nearly impossible to effectively navigate their way through the convoluted system of benefits to which they are entitled.
Some in our community forgo seeking timely medical care out fear of their inability to pay. While others incur expenses out of pocket that would otherwise have been covered by insurance. But in Madison a non-profit public interest law firm called ABC For Health
works to simplify the claims process. With services available to ailing state residents at all levels of income, the group provides free benefits counseling, a kind of check up, that eases navigation through the system, facilitates the delivery of care and speeds healing.
[caption id="attachment_3524" align="alignleft" width="419" caption="ABC for Health attorney Bobby Peterson"]
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