New mom billed nearly $900K after missing deadline to enroll her infant in health plan

A new mother received a $898,984.57 hospital bill after her employer, San Francisco-based Dignity Health, said she did not enroll her premature baby in its health plan by the required deadline, according to ProPublica.

ProPublica reported that Lauren Bard, an emergency room nurse at Dignity Health's St. Bernardine Medical Center in San Bernardino, Calif., had her newborn daughter, Sadie, at 26 weeks in September 2018, at the University of California Irvine Medical Center in Orange, Calif.

She said she assumed Dignity Health would cover most of the costs for her daughter, who was in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Ms. Bard told ProPublica that Anthem Blue Cross, which administers her health plan, and UC Irvine's billing department assured her that Sadie was covered. What she didn't know then, however, was that Dignity Health's plan required her to enroll her baby within 31 days to receive coverage.

Ms. Bard, who was hospitalized for serious pregnancy-related conditions, only found out her daughter was not enrolled after the 31-day deadline passed. By then, Dignity Health's benefits department told her it was too late to add Sadie to her health plan coverage, according to ProPublica.

It was after Ms. Bard posted a photo of the nearly $1 million bill on Facebook and ProPublica asked questions that Dignity Health changed directions.

In a letter obtained by ProPublica, Dignity Health told Ms. Bard the new decision was due to "certain extenuating and compelling circumstances, which, in all likelihood prohibited you from enrolling your newborn daughter within the plan's required 31-day enrollment period."

Anthem did not comment to ProPublica for the story.

Read the full ProPublica report here.  


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