Written By: Lauren Howard
A friend had a terrifying emergency with their kid this week.
He was hospitalized after choking on a piece of food and being unconscious for five minutes.
Our youngest had a MUCH less severe choking incident last year, and I still haven’t recovered from it. I can’t even imagine the terror that persists, even when you know they’re okay.
I reached out to make sure that they didn’t need anything and to send my support for whatever they needed. That’s what friends do.
I asked if I could do anything, and I got a sense that there was something he just wasn’t saying.
After clarifying one more time that they didn’t need anything, the ask came out.
"Do you know anything about financial hardships at this hospital? I know the bill is going to be huge, and I’m not even sure where to start. We don’t have that right now."
I realized they didn’t have insurance because he was laid off earlier this year.
Their son had a medical emergency and could have died, and he was sitting at his bedside worried about how they would pay the bill.
He was worried about the cost of saving his son’s life.
How is that even a reality for anyone?
Lucky for him, I do know lots about that, and it only took me a few minutes to put together the information.
You can retroactively apply for Medicaid in Florida, and kids almost always qualify for one of the available programs, even if you have to pay for it.
The hospital has a foundation for people within a certain amount of the poverty line. Fortunately and unfortunately for them, they had no income recently and qualified.
There is a program that provides immediate coverage for kids under five in every situation.
I wrote out a list of instructions so there was no guesswork in getting any of it done. I told him to have the hospital send a case worker or social worker who could walk them through the options, or have them reach out to me and I would handle all of that. I also found the information for the financial counselor who could get them the forms for the financial coverage.
This is not a celebration of my skills or knowledge. It’s an indictment of a system so messed up that a parent could be recovering from the most terrifying experience of their life and have to devote even an ounce of worry to anything other than that.
His child is fine and thriving after a few scary days on a ventilator and all the tests under the sun. By all accounts, they were lucky in so many ways.
How does it work out for people who don’t have someone like me standing by? How much extra time do they spend wrapped in compounded terror because after their worst nightmare, they have another mountain of stress waiting for them? How do people who aren’t native speakers, don’t know what a social worker is, and/or are fully disenfranchised from the system get to the other side of any of this?
You should have one concern when your child is sick, and it shouldn’t be anyone’s wallet.
I can’t believe I even have to say that.
Founder & CEO at elletwo