Update on Getting Ellie to Cincinnati
After I posted my last entry, I continued searching for options to finance Ellie’s surgery in Cincinnati. On one of a thousand phone calls or internet searches, I found a financial assistance department at the children’s hospital. They normally work with patients who have existing bills by discounting their bill a certain percentage based on a set of criteria. I found an employee willing to work with me before we even had a bill.
Based on their criteria, Ellie qualified to have the vast majority of her bills “forgiven” by the hospital. There was only one criterion she did not meet: we live outside of their geographical coverage region. To overrule this requirement, the business director of the hospital needed to approve the hospital charges, and the business director of the colorectal center needed to approve the professional charges.
The financial assistance department told me they gained approval for the hospital charges quickly, but they spent a month calling and emailing various people, trying to obtain approval for the professional charges. There were multiple times that I was given dates I should receive an answer by, but they just kept getting pushed back further and further as they couldn’t get in contact with the right people. A few weeks ago, they told me there was nothing more they could do but gave me permission to begin calling myself.
I then got in contact with many people at the colorectal center. I was told that we could schedule an appointment even without approval for the professional charges. I really believed I could eventually gain approval for those, but I was prepared to fund-raise and pay for those myself in the event that I was never able to obtain approval.
I received a phone call a few hours after having an appointment in the books informing me not only that approval for the professional charges had been denied, but that approval for the hospital charges would also not be granted. Apparently they were only considering the initial appointment when they had promised me those — not the entire surgery.
Desperate, I said I would just take her to Cincinnati and pay for the entire process myself, further plunging myself into debt. The hospital denied my request to self-pay, knowing they wouldn’t see their money for a very long time. A hospital is not obligated to accept you as a patient if you do not have insurance (unless your life is immediately at risk).
That process cost my daughter another month of pain, another month of her eventual recovery postponed, only to wind up back at square one. The options I am left with look like this:
- Suck it up and take her to a hospital in Michigan. This means putting my baby on an operating table where she will only be treated by a rectologist (and an inexperienced one, at that). Her vagina and urethra will not be acknowledged, despite the relatively frequent malformation of these areas that comes with ectopic anus. Should we discover later in life that she also needs corrective surgery on her urethra and/or vagina (which would not be uncommon for someone with her condition), she will need additional surgeries to correct those. And every time they cut down there — even when they do it perfectly — some degree of functioning is lost. (Even with the surgery done perfectly, she will recover approximately 80% of her bowel functioning.)
- Move to Ohio. Quit my job, leave my school, start paying back my student loans, leave Ellie’s daycare that she is so bonded to, pay rent on my home here and on one there, and live somewhere where I don’t know where I will work or who will care for Ellie while I do.
- Find a way to get her on private insurance. This basically means legally marrying someone whose insurance plan will cover a stepchild, as private insurance companies will not allow me to directly buy her a plan and pay a monthly premium. (I’ve checked.)
- Do something illegal.
The people who say there is not a problem, that the system is not broken, have clearly never lived in it.