From the Blog

Here’s What Happens When A (Former) Accountant Gets Pregnant

Okay, so this post may be interesting to exactly no one.

But it sort of shows what a difference five years have made in my life. And it shows exactly how anal I can be, if left to my own devices. I’m guessing you were eating your breakfast this morning, and thinking, “Huh. I wonder how anal a random stranger could get on the internet?” And lo! Your answer appears…as if by magic! You’re welcome!

You see, I am pregnant. I know. I can’t shut up about it. At the beginning of this pregnancy, I had a high-deductible individual health insurance policy. Now I have coverage through Dave’s new job. We’ve been to three different hospitals, spoken to a multitude of doctors, and have probably had dozens of different tests. We’ve gotten benefit statement letters from our insurance, and we’ve gotten a handful of bills.

We are a bit over halfway through the process of being pregnant, and I’ve seen, perhaps, about 10% of the bills we are likely to receive. For our first insurance, we will need to pay $2000 to fulfill my deductible. After that, insurance pays only 50%. After we pay the out-of-pocket maximum of $5000, insurance is supposed to pay 100%. Right? It’s a lot of money. But we knew what we were getting into. And we were prepared to pay that much.

In the meantime, as the bills were being sent, our insurance company insisted that some of the doctors were not within network, so they weren’t going to apply to our $5000 out-of-pocket maximum. Those charges were going to go to a $15,000 out-of-network out-of-pocket maximum. So it began to look like a $20,000 pregnancy, instead of a $5000 pregnancy, which we were NOT prepared for.

I battled with the insurance company over the out-of-network doctors. The doctor’s office insisted she was in network, though the insurance company said the opposite. It turned out the insurance company records were out of date, and it took two months of wrangling in order for them to correct the charges.

Right. Okay? I said this was going to be boring as shit. It keeps going.

I’ve gotten some insurance company benefit statements from some of the visits, labs, and ultrasounds. But for the most part, we have gotten very few bills from medical providers. I know we are visiting one office where we probably have thousands of dollars in charges sitting on our account. But we have gotten no bills. No bills.

This, as you might imagine, is freaking my shit out. I am collecting whatever letters we get, and I’m paying whatever bills come in. But I know there are a lot more to come.

And so. And so, I made a spreadsheet. And this is how I am a different person than I was even five years ago. Five years ago, I may have kept track of the charges, and I wouldn’t have thrown anything away. But I was not in control of my money back then, and if I didn’t have a bill in my hand, it meant I didn’t have to worry that I owed money. I would have buried the thought and maybe dealt with it with later. I would have made an effort to stay oblivious. It would keep me up at night, but really, five years ago, I would not have wanted to know how bad it was.

Now, I make spreadsheets. I track every letter, every charge, every bill. I have a list of all the charges before my deductible and after. I have lists of charges that were re-billed from out-of-network to in-network. Now that we have new insurance, I’m tracking the before and after deductible charges again.

I’m doing this, because, yes, you hope that insurance companies and doctors offices will bill correctly. And you hope that they have a record of what you’ve paid. And you hope that you’re getting all the charges they send you.

But come on.

I’m tracking every dime we pay. I’m tracking what the insurance companies pay. I’m making a list of every appointment we go to. I’m going to go to the doctors’ offices and ask them to please send us our bill. It’s all going in a spreadsheet.

I probably don’t need to do all this. But that is how I am different now than I was years ago. Now it puts my mind at ease to know what is going on with our money. Where before, I didn’t want to know.

Now, I think it’s sort of interesting. I like the idea that I’ll have a record of what a pregnancy costs. Maybe I should have been a project manager, instead of an accountant.

Now, I build spreadsheets for recreational purposes.

The internet is full of anal retentive weirdos.

Comments

  1. FlamingAtheist says

    Not so AR as you think.
    I try to stay on top of recurring medical expenses now. I had to deal with a nasty collection dept. for PT I had done on a busted up ankle. The lab had misspelled my name so there was the exact amount they were expecting from my insurance, but in an account with a wrong name – took me 6+ months to get it fixed, or more precisely 1 cooperative person on their end to actually listen.
    So your spreadsheet doesn’t seem outlandish or AR to me at all.

  2. Michael says

    Welcome to health care for profit! Great to see the insurance racketeers have met their match in dealing with you. I am much like your “old”self, wait until the bill arrives, then i owe something.. Good health to you and the babies.

  3. Jennifer says

    Good grief I’m glad to be a (pregnant!) Canadian when I read this. I am awed by your diligence.

  4. You’re not being anal, just smart…plus you can whip it out when the boys whine about how you don’t get anything for them. Keep it up, you should be very proud of how far you’ve come!

  5. oldsweng says

    I had a cardiologist not bill me for over six months. His wife was doing the books and just never got around to billing me. Do I need to say he is now a researcher and doesn’t have to deal with billing?

    Recently I received a check from my insurance company for miscalculated Rx copays. Nearly $100.00. I argued with the clerk at the time but needed the medicine.

  6. Ahh… American healthcare at it’s finest! And to think, some people fight to keep this shit from changing…

  7. To me this isn’t being anal, it’s being wicked smart! But then I’m pretty anal myself.

  8. i think you are a rock star to do this. i definitely avoid the responsibility. but the medical industry is a total racket, and I think nowadays, if you are smart, you assume the med/insurance community is screwing you. cuz most likely they are.

  9. I wish I could convince myself that keeping such detailed records of my bills was far superior to waking up in the middle of the night, sweating from anxiety. For now, I still hold to my adolescent fantasies of smashing the system, living in quiet anarchy and emulating my hero’s, Snake Pliskin and Mad Max.

    One day I will be awesome like you but right now I’m settling for gasoline and bad assery.

  10. This post on your spreadsheet management skills makes your engineer dad feel proud!

  11. ok, so i sorted my receipts tonight, into their respective month piles. turns out i haven’t done this stuff since december…. oops.

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