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NICU bill installment plan: That'll be $45,843 a month for 12 months, please

Victoria Knight, Kaiser Health News on

Published in Health & Fitness

Close to midnight on Nov. 12, 2020, Bisi Bennett was sitting on the couch in her pajamas and feeling uncomfortable. She was about seven months pregnant with her first child, Dorian, and the thought that she could be in labor didn’t even cross her mind.

Then, she felt a contraction so strong it knocked her off the couch. She shouted to her husband, Chris, and they ran to the car to start the 15-minute drive to AdventHealth hospital in Orlando, Florida. About halfway through the trip, Bennett gave birth to Dorian in her family’s Mitsubishi Outlander. Her husband kept one hand on his newborn son’s back and one hand on the wheel.

Born breech, meaning his head emerged last, Dorian wasn’t crying at first, and the terrified new parents feared something was wrong. Chris Bennett turned on the SUV’s flashers and flagged down a passing emergency vehicle. The EMS team escorted the family to the hospital.

“He was still connected to me with the umbilical cord when they rolled the two of us together into the hospital,” Bisi said. “They cut the cord, and the last thing I heard was, ‘He has a pulse,’ before they wheeled me away.”

“I just cried tears of relief,” she said.

Dorian stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit until Jan. 7, 2021, for almost two full months. While Dorian was in the hospital, Bisi wasn’t worried about the cost. She works in the insurance industry and had carefully chosen AdventHealth Orlando because the hospital was close to her house and in her insurance network.

 

Then the bills came.

The Patient: Dorian Bennett, an infant born two months premature. He has health insurance through his mother’s employer, AssuredPartners, where she works as a licensed property insurance agent.

Medical Service: A neonatal intensive care unit stay of 56 days. Dorian needed highly technical, lifesaving respiratory and nutritional care until his organs matured. He also received laboratory, radiology, surgery, cardiology and audiology services and treatments.

Service Provider: AdventHealth Orlando in Orlando, Florida. It is a part of the AdventHealth system, a large nonprofit and faith-based group of health care providers with locations across Florida and several other states.

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