Lisa Powell-Dejong laughed when she looked at the list of hospital charges from giving birth to her daughter, Liberty Mae. That's because among the charges for more expected things like the NICU stay and blood tests, was $1,216.50 for a circumcision. Yeah, a circumcision ... for her newborn daughter.
Liberty Mae is the most recent addition to the blended family of seven children. Colorado mom Powell-Dejong had a hospital birth once before but didn't check the medical bill with her first biological daughter, who was in the NICU for nine days.
"But I sure wish I had," the mom told Mom.me "She is almost 3 and I JUST paid her hospital bill off! Makes me wonder what was on there."
Her second biological daughter was born almost a month early, two days before Christmas, weighting 3 pounds, 12 ounces. Liberty Mae was in the Sky Ridge Medical Center's NICU for five days. This time, Powell-Dejong asked for a itemized bill because she needed one for a hospital indemnity claim, which was when she spotted the error. Otherwise, she said she would have just received a bill with the total and no itemization.
Powell-Dejong hopes her story will help prompt people to look more closely at their medical bills and ask for a detailed or itemized statement. Chances are, there's probably a mistake or questionable charge, like this $40 charge to hold your baby. A 2013 hospital audit by Medicare found that about 49 percent of bills contained errors. Question discrepancies before it gets a lot tougher to dispute and lands your account in collections. Giving birth is already expensive enough in the U.S. and can even land parents in debt or consider filing for bankruptcy.
Sky Ridge Spokesperson Linda Watson told 9 News that the hospital admitted to a mistake, and that the charged amounts represented amounts sent before her insurance would kick in.
"This simple, human coding error did not impact the patient's final bill nor did it impact insurance reimbursement. We corrected the invoice as soon as we learned of the issue, notified the patient and sent an updated version to the insurance company. We always encourage patients with billing questions or concerns to contact us directly so we can address them quickly," Watson said.
Still the lesson is clear: Check your bills. And make sure they're not taking any extra tips when they shouldn't be.