Imagine that you’ve just had a baby. The baby is three months premature, and both of you have to spend time recovering in the hospital. When you and the baby are back home, you get a bill from the hospital for almost $900,000. That’s what happened to Lauren Bard. She’s actually an emergency room nurse, but at a different hospital than where she delivered.
The insurance company, Dignity Health, said that Bard failed to meet the deadline to register her newborn to its health plan. And therefore, Bard was responsible for the grand total bill of $1.7 million.
Bard was lucky, though. After exhausting all her appeals and taking her story public, with the help of ProPublica, she only paid out about $2,000 in the end.
Her story exemplifies an American healthcare system that’s prohibitively expensive, and a for-profit health insurance industry (with holes, loopholes, and fine print) that can leave people with large bills.