About three weeks ago my wife had our daughter Emma. What was suppose to be a joyous event, was filled with anxiety. Emma came early, 34 weeks to be exact. She spent around two weeks in the Neonatal intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Tulsa, OK. The medical bills where around $100,000 dollars and my wife’s time in the hospital was around $23,000 dollars. The healthcare system is crazy and I see why people go bankrupt. Fortunately, I am Native American (only 1/16) and a tribal member of the Creek Nation. I have access to free healthcare in Oklahoma, but when my wife delivered early the tribal hospital transferred her to a regular hospital in Tulsa because they did not have a best equipped NICU facility. That is when things became interesting.
My wife’s pregnancy seemed to be going as plan, but she developed preclampsia and had to deliver early. That is when she had to be moved to a Tulsa hospital and it become unclear if my tribe would pay for the medical bills. We are still going through the process, but it appears that they will pay for the medical bills. However, we are having to fill out a lot of paperwork!
Going through this process had made me feel appreciative of having this safety net. The tribes here in Oklahoma are truly amazing and they have done so much for this state. I am lucky to have access to these resources. However, I do feel really bad for those who have to file for medical bankruptcy or go into massive debt. No one should have to worry about paying off their medical bills while still in the hospital. I definitely believe our healthcare system needs improvement.
I am not here to offer any solutions, but merely offer my own experience. My wife and daughter do have health insurance and it will cover 80% of the cost, but if I did not have the tribe helping out, it still would have cost us close to $25,000 dollars. Definitely not something you want to worry about as your child is in the NICU. The stress that this creates is totally unneeded.
My situation should be resolved hopefully soon, but I feel sorry for those who are going through this without help. My question is what can be done to lower the cost of health care?