Surgery, casts, wheelchairs, and medical bills…Oh My!

One of my Littles broke her leg over 7 weeks ago and the bills have started to arrive from the hospital, ambulance, surgeon, etc.  Yeah, she did a number on her leg.  She broke both the tibia and fibula.  The fear was that she would need pins to set it. Thankfully the surgeon was able to set it without the pins.  But she did need to be in the operating room just in case.

We started off in our town’s emergency room and the ER doc called down to an ER in the larger town to get a consult. Our town’s ER wasn’t equipped for a surgery of this nature so off we went in an ambulance.

Can I just tell  you how very grateful I am for health insurance. At the moment I am annoyed at the payment process, but I am keeping that in perspective since we HAVE health insurance.

The ambulance ride was $700.  The larger ER visit with surgery was $7500.  I haven’t seen the surgeon’s bill yet.  If we didn’t have health insurance we would have to come up with $8200 out of pocket.  Ouch!

And there was a time in my life where I didn’t have health insurance on me and the insurance that was on the oldest was not great.  I remember paying out of pocket for a lot of medical expenses when I was a single parent.


A visit down memory lane

Which got a girlfriend and I on a conversation about our current welfare system. When I was a single mother I chose to not use the welfare system. I worked full time. I found full time child care and paid for it. I received a pittance in child support. No matter, we managed. Until I lost my job.

My 23 y.o. was a severe asthmatic.  She was hospitalized 4 times in one year before I was able to get a handle on her medication. While she was hospitalized the first time I was fired. Long story, but if I had the means for an attorney at the time it would have been “game on.”

So, we lived off unemployment and child support. Let’s just say that was NOT enough. In my desperation I applied for WIC and received it. I even applied for food stamps, but was denied because I had an asset…my car.  If I sold my car I would qualify for assistance.  What??!!  There is something wrong with a system that “enables” you in this fashion.  Needless to say I didn’t sell my car.  We ate, but I fell 2 months behind on the rent. That’s a whole other saga.

My point with all of this is that during all of this I had medical expenses above and beyond what my daughter’s insurance covered (her biological father was court ordered to keep health insurance on her). There were co-pays for the doctor visits. The medication was expensive. Yes, we were suppose to split the cost but that was a fight I couldn’t afford for a while.

  • I am grateful that her doctor didn’t always charge me office visits all the time.
  • I am even more grateful that he still saw her even though I owed a bit of money.

I honestly don’t know how I paid all those bills, but I did.  It is a time in my life I don’t want to relive in minute detail.  I bring that time out to remind myself of how far I have come and to be grateful, always, for the ability to pay our bills.


  1. I hope she feels better!!!

  2. That’s one of the reasons I respect you, Jen. Even though I only know bits and pieces of your story, I know that you’ve been through a lot and come out on the other side so far ahead of the game that some people will just never understand how you could’ve endured (myself included, at least on some level). I give you all the props in the world for that. I’m severely lucky that my parents have always bailed my ass out and I am severely unfortunate that my parents have always bailed my ass out when I was in trouble. I think that had they not come to my rescue so often, I would be a lot more mature about money, but like I said I’m really lucky to have had that option.

    As far as the hospital bills go for her leg, holy cannoli!! I’ve been there, though, with insurance (thank God). I had to have open surgery for my gallbladder and was in and out of the hospital before that between the ER, ambulance rides, and the outpatient procedures I received. I think with my insurance (we have TriCare Standard, so we trade the luxury of my picking my own docs without needing a referral for having to pay a percentage of the bill, which I’m okay with) we may have paid around $400. Maybe $500 when all was said and done. Had I not had insurance, I don’t even want to know how much I had to pay.

  3. That is what insurance is for, the unexpected accidents and major medical issues. A major issue in America is that we expect health insurance to override our unhealthy lifestyles. That abuse has inflated healthcare costs and dimmed our eyes to our responsibility to do all we can to prevent disease in the first place.

    If we treated health insurance like we do car insurance, it would pay for the broken leg (car crash) but not the sinus infection (oil change). Our family of 5 has drastically cut our our sick care costs by practicing prevention through better nutrition. In the past 10 years we have spent maybe $200 on copays and prescriptions. Maybe. Hey, maybe I can write a guest post for you on that topic! lol

    • I think you are right Stacey. We should do more for prevention, but unfortunately we are a society who feels entitled to live how WE see fit not caring how our choices affect the greater good. That won’t change in our lifetime, or if ever.

  4. Thank you for sharing your story. My grandmother works for an OB/GYN office taking care of overdue accounts. She always says that if a patient “try” to makes some sort of payment towards the balance in good faith, the doctors are willing to keep seeing them. I think most people think that it’s all or nothing. They also think they have to put on armor and fight against the bill, but good people who try and make dents in their payments come out the other end better off.
    You should be proud of yourself! I was raised by the same kind of mother you had to be…I know the sacrifice.

  5. Oh wow…what a saga. We’ve had two ambulance rides over the past eight years and getting those bills in was extremely sobering. I, too, am very grateful for health insurance and I agree, something has to be done to figure out how we can help individuals who need it without forcing them into destitution…the scales used to determine need are horribly off.

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