BUSINESS

Arizona Mother Fights $900 Medical Bill After Premature Baby Dies Minutes After Birth

06/04/2012 01:58 pm ET | Updated Jun 05, 2012

The death of a child is something no parent ever wants to face. And reliving such a traumatic experience in order to settle a medical bill would seem to only make it worse.

Melissa Sherman, an Arizona mother, lost her youngest daughter Kaylee just minutes after her premature birth last July, WCPO reports (h/t The Daily Mail). Sherman then spent months battling Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center over a nearly $900 bill that Sherman says she received despite the newborn not receiving any substantial medical care.

"I don't want to relive it over and over, so it's been really emotional," Sherman told WCPO.

Sherman felt strongly that her bill for $896.73 “didn't make sense,” but it was only after she started working with local news station ABC15 that the hospital agreed to waive the costs. The hospital’s CEO, Larry Volkmar, said he only dropped the charges to zero as a “courtesy,” insisting that the bill included “routine daily accommodation charges” and was “accurate.”

Of course, confusion over medical bills is nothing new. Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center of New York mistakenly billed a number of patients for millions of dollars, including one unemployed doorman who received $44.8 million invoice thanks to an inputting error. And breast cancer survivor Lisa Lindsay was handcuffed and taken from her home after not paying a $280 medical bill that was sent to her by accident.

As in Sherman’s case, medical bills can become even more complicated when insurance companies get involved. A hospital patient in Southern California, for example, could have cut her bill in half if she elected to pay the hospital in cash rather than use her insurance, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Medical costs are of increasing concern with the average cost of care expected to top $20,000 for insured Americans, the highest of any industrialized nation.

Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that the hospital patient in Southern California was billed by her insurance company.

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