I like to think of myself as being financially knowledgeable. I might not have the size emergency fund I want or retirement savings that I want, but I like to think I can anticipate upcoming expenses fairly well. Life has a way of showing you how very little you know. It all began a year ago.
Our Second Child
This time last year my wife and I were preparing for the birth of our second child and probably our last. Both my wife and I do not want to be out-numbered by the kids. We had scheduled the c-section for the Monday before Thanksgiving. We had to go the c-section route because my daughter was a little stubborn in coming out, so she was a c-section as well. We arrived at the hospital early for the 8:30 surgery. My son arrived just after 9 in the morning. The doctor noticed a slight murmur, but said this was normal and would probably go away in a few days.
Late that night, I awoke from a nap and my wife informed me that they had taken my son back to the nursery for some tests. The nurse had noticed his heart beat seemed just a tad high and they wanted to be cautious and run a couple tests. A little while later they returned with him and informed us that everything seemed to be ok. His heart beat had returned to a normal level and the tests showed nothing unusual.
My Son Was Sick
The next morning, I woke up around 8 and my wife said my son had been taken back again for some tests. A nurse had noticed what she thought was some labored breathing and thought he should be checked out. This time though, he did not return to our room. A doctor came in to tell us that there was a difference between the two sets of tests and not for the better. They wanted to transfer him to a different hospital nearby that could better diagnose the problem.
They arranged transportation for my son and began to arrange to transport my wife to the same hospital so she could recover there as well. He left the hospital between 1 and 2 in the afternoon that Tuesday. By 4 o’clock we received a phone call. Our son needed to be transported to another hospital, he had a problem with one of his hearts valves and there were no cardiac surgeons at the hospital. They wanted to transport him 2 hours away.
I left about an hour or so later, but my wife remained. She was still recovering from the surgery and could not make the trip. I arrived at the new hospital at almost the same time as my soon. I was directed to the NICU where he arrived a few minutes later. I waited for about an hour or 2 before I was able to go see him. I finally learned about his condition, aortic valve stenosis. His valve had not formed correctly and wasn’t letting the blood flow from his heart. He was scheduled for a catheritization procedure the next morning. His condition was very treatable and his prognosis was very good.
The procedure went perfectly. They were able to open up the valve by going through the artery in his leg. He was transferred to the cardiac-ICU where he spent the next 3 days. Thanksgiving was actually a big day. They took the breathing tube out that morning. Friday, we were transferred to a normal hospital room and then on Saturday we went home.
Sick Is Expensive
I bring this up in a financial blog because of the financial impact. Since it has been one year, I know the final cost. The gross amount charged for him was $144,407. Thankfully, my insurance had negotiated lower rates. This brought the amount down to $100,751. My total out of pocket has only been $5,647 over the past year for his condition.
Like I said at the beginning, I thought I was good about anticipating expenses. I had planned for my wife’s bills from the c-section. I was totally unprepared for my son’s bills. He is doing extremely well now. Our intervals between visits to his cardiologist have been growing longer and longer. We’re now up to 6 months. The hope is that he won’t need anything else done until he’s an adult. I’ll worry more about that later. Right now, I’m just going to celebrate his birthday.