After Medical Bills Broke the Bank, This Family Headed to Mexico for Care

The Fierro family of Yuma, Arizona, had a string of bad medical luck that started in December 2020.

That’s when Jesús Fierro Sr. was admitted to the hospital with a serious covid-19 infection. He spent 18 days at Yuma Regional Medical Center, where he lost 60 pounds. He came home weak and dependent on an oxygen tank.

Then, in June 2021, his wife, Claudia, fainted while waiting for a table at the local Olive Garden. She felt dizzy one minute and was in an ambulance on her way to the same medical center the next. She was told her magnesium levels were low and was sent home within 24 hours.

The family has health insurance through Jesús Sr.’s job. But it didn’t protect the Fierros from owing thousands of dollars. So, when their son Jesús Fierro Jr. dislocated his shoulder, the Fierros — who hadn’t yet paid the bills for their own care — opted out of U.S. health care and headed south to the U.S.-Mexico border.

And no other bills came for at least one member of the family.

The Patients: Jesús Fierro Sr., 48; Claudia Fierro, 51; and Jesús Fierro Jr., 17. The family has Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas health insurance through Jesús Sr.’s employment with NOV Inc., formerly National Oilwell Varco, a multinational oil company.

Medical Services: For Jesús Sr., 18 days of inpatient care for a severe covid infection. For Claudia, less than 24 hours of emergency care after fainting. For Jesús Jr., a walk-in appointment for a dislocated shoulder.

Total Bills: Jesús Sr. was charged $3,894.86. The total bill was $107,905.80 for covid treatment. Claudia was charged $3,252.74, including $202.36 for treatment from an out-of-network physician. The total bill was $13,429.50 for less than a day of treatment. Jesús Jr. was charged about $5 (70 pesos) for an outpatient visit that the family paid in cash.

Service Providers: Yuma Regional Medical Center, a 406-bed, nonprofit hospital in Yuma, Arizona. It’s in the Fierros’ insurance network. And a private doctor’s office in Mexicali, Mexico, which is not.

The Fierros have been strapped by unusually high medical bills from the Yuma Regional Medical Center.(Lisa Hornak for KHN)

What Gives: The Fierros were trapped in a situation that more and more Americans find themselves in: They are what some experts term “functionally uninsured.” They have insurance — in this case, through Jesús Sr.’s job, which pays $72,000 a year. But their health plan is expensive, and they don’t have the liquid savings to pay their “share” of the bill. The Fierros’ plan says their out-of-pocket maximum is $8,500 a year for the family. And in a country where even a short stay in an emergency room is billed at a staggering sum, that means minor encounters with the medical system can take virtually all of the family’s disposable savings, year after year. And that’s why the Fierros opted out.

According to the terms of the insurance plan, which has a $2,000 family deductible and

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Hit with $7,146 for two hospital bills, a family sought health care in Mexico : Shots

Claudia and Jesús Fierro of Yuma, Ariz., review their medical bills. They pay $1,000 a month for health insurance yet still owed more than $7,000 after two episodes of care at the local hospital.

Lisa Hornak for Kaiser Health News


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Lisa Hornak for Kaiser Health News

Claudia and Jesús Fierro of Yuma, Ariz., review their medical bills. They pay $1,000 a month for health insurance yet still owed more than $7,000 after two episodes of care at the local hospital.

Lisa Hornak for Kaiser Health News

The Fierro family of Yuma, Ariz., had a string of bad medical luck that started in December 2020.

That’s when Jesús Fierro Sr. was admitted to the hospital with a serious case of COVID-19. He spent 18 days at Yuma Regional Medical Center, where he lost 60 pounds. He came home weak and dependent on an oxygen tank.

Then, in June 2021, his wife, Claudia Fierro, fainted while waiting for a table at the local Olive Garden restaurant. She felt dizzy one minute and was in an ambulance on her way to the same medical center the next. She was told her magnesium levels were low and was sent home within 24 hours.

The family has health insurance through Jesús Sr.’s job, but it didn’t protect the Fierros from owing thousands of dollars. So when their son Jesús Fierro Jr. dislocated his shoulder, the Fierros — who hadn’t yet paid the bills for their own care — opted out of U.S. health care and headed south to the U.S.-Mexico border.

And no other bills came for at least one member of the family.

The patients: Jesús Fierro Sr., 48; Claudia Fierro, 51; and Jesús Fierro Jr., 17. The family has Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas health insurance through Jesús Sr.’s employment with NOV, formerly National Oilwell Varco, an American multinational oil company based in Houston.

Medical services: For Jesús Sr., 18 days of inpatient care for a severe case of COVID-19. For Claudia, fewer than 24 hours of emergency care after fainting. For Jesús Jr., a walk-in appointment for a dislocated shoulder.

Total bills: Jesús Sr. was charged $3,894.86. The total bill was $107,905.80 for COVID-19 treatment. Claudia was charged $3,252.74, including $202.36 for treatment from an out-of-network physician. The total bill was $13,429.50 for less than one day of treatment. Jesús Jr. was charged $5 (70 pesos) for an outpatient visit that the family paid in cash.

Service providers: Yuma Regional Medical Center, a 406-bed nonprofit hospital in Yuma, Ariz. It’s in the Fierros’ insurance network. And a private doctor’s office in Mexicali, Mexico, which is not.

What gives: The Fierros were trapped in a situation in which more and more Americans find themselves. They are what some experts term “functionally uninsured.” They have insurance — in this case, through Jesús Sr.’s job, which pays $72,000 a year. But their health plan is expensive, and they don’t have the liquid savings to pay their share of

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Month to month membership assistance for health care? New choices for your family healthcare needs

Health insurance policy can be pricey for people and companies. But did you know you have other possibilities to get lined and steer clear of paying a tax penalty? There is concierge medicine, which can give you distinctive accessibility to your most important treatment doctor, a authentic VIP services. And there is direct key care, which is all the special cure, at a extra economical price.

Dr. Bhavana Rao required to be a health practitioner to help people today and really get to know her individuals. In classic household drugs now it’s not often achievable.

“If you have a 15-moment stop by, and you have 5 issues to focus on. It is really hard for anybody you know,” claimed Dr. Rao.

She’s married to businessman Sunil Vashsist. They never assumed a person day they’d be colleagues right until the strategy of direct most important care came together, A.K.A. a regular monthly membership to medical doctors. You spend every month subscriptions for all types of solutions, so why not use them for your health practitioner?

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How substantially does immediate clinical care really cost?

“Direct most important treatment techniques never post any payments or invoices for consultations, two insurances. And it is substantially far more inexpensive,” reported Dr. Rao.

Direct principal treatment presents inexpensive substitute (KPRC 2)

With direct main treatment, you pay an once-a-year or month to month price and can get rewards this sort of as very same-working day appointments, phone calls, and/or textual content messages with your medical professional. This can be any time of the working day or night time.

“Yeah, the only health practitioner that I have at any time had or know of that will textual content, like she will textual content make positive we’re all right. Or if we have a question. We’ll ship her a text. And she’ll get again to us like, within short, I mean, within just a fifty percent an hour for positive,” said affected individual Jeff Newkirk.

What about healthcare for the young ones?

The Newkirk relatives has used this variety of health-related care for decades. Their little ones can also use the company and they do not even dwell here!

“We have three university little ones. And each time they have an challenge, they can just you know, they’ll connect with me up and say, ‘Hey, mother, I feel this way.’ And I’ll say properly, speak to, Dr. Rao. And they do and she will take care of all the things pretty much,” reported Diane Newkirk.

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The Newkirk family says they now don’t want traditional health and fitness coverage. It may be a scary considered, but Sunil claims it could operate for a ton of family members.

“We know that car insurance is for incidents, homeowners insurance coverage, we know if it’s something we can spend out of pocket and resolve it. We’re not heading to go to insurance coverage. But well being coverage in this region is framed so the way it is framed is

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High medical bill in the ER leaves family reeling : Shots

Dhaval Bhatt plays Monopoly with his children, Hridaya (left) and Martand, at their home in St. Peters, Missouri. Martand’s mother took him to a children’s hospital in April after he burned his hand, and the bill for the emergency room visit was more than $1,000 — even though the child was never seen by a doctor.

Whitney Curtis for Kaiser Health News


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Whitney Curtis for Kaiser Health News

Dhaval Bhatt plays Monopoly with his children, Hridaya (left) and Martand, at their home in St. Peters, Missouri. Martand’s mother took him to a children’s hospital in April after he burned his hand, and the bill for the emergency room visit was more than $1,000 — even though the child was never seen by a doctor.

Whitney Curtis for Kaiser Health News

Martand Bhatt’s parents weren’t sure he needed immediate medical care when the energetic toddler burned his hand on the kitchen stove one April morning.

Dhaval Bhatt, Martand’s father, said he’d been warned about hospital emergency rooms after he arrived in the U.S. from his native India.

“People always told me to avoid the ER in America unless you are really dying,” said Bhatt, a research scientist and pharmacologist at Washington University in St. Louis.

But after seeing a photo, the family’s pediatrician directed them the next day to the local children’s hospital.

Dhaval Bhatt was traveling at the time. So Martand’s mother, Mansi Bhatt, took their son to the hospital and was sent to the emergency room. A nurse took the toddler’s vitals and looked at the wound. She said a surgeon would be in to inspect it more closely.

When the surgeon didn’t appear after more than an hour, Mansi Bhatt took her son home. The hospital told her to make a follow-up appointment with a doctor, which turned out to be unnecessary because the burn healed quickly.

Then the bill came.

The patient: Martand Bhatt, a toddler covered by a UnitedHealthcare insurance plan provided by the employer of his father, Dhaval Bhatt.

Medical service: An emergency room visit for a burn sustained when Martand touched an electric stove.

Total bill: $1,012. UnitedHealthcare’s negotiated rate was $858.92, all of which the Bhatts were responsible for because their plan had a $3,000 deductible.

Service provider: SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, one of 23 hospitals owned by SSM Health, a Catholic nonprofit health system with more than $8 billion in annual revenue.

What gives: Many patients don’t understand that they can rack up huge bills almost as soon as they walk through the doors of an ER.

Unlike a restaurant or a mechanic that won’t charge if someone gets tired of waiting for a table or an inspection of a rattling engine, hospital emergency rooms almost invariably charge patients as soon as they check in.

And once they register, patients will be billed — often a lot — whether treatment was rendered or not.

Martand received almost no medical service. A nurse practitioner looked over

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Marshfield Clinic Family Health Center helps those with special needs access dental care

MENOMONIE, Wis. (WEAU) – When aiding folks with disabilities, dental solutions can be missed.

Nonetheless, at Marshfield Clinic’s Household Health and fitness Centers, staff members make managing folks with specific demands a precedence.

Which is significant for clients like Robin Ovren of Menomonie. She spends most of her working day in a wheelchair so obtaining in the dental chair is no easy job.

Thankfully, at the Family Overall health Center’s Menomonie dental clinic, she can keep in her wheelchair though finding her tooth cleaned.

That is since the clinic’s dental suites are specially constructed to accommodate them. They are broader so wheelchairs can healthy.

“Either the affected individual can keep in their wheelchair if it’s an electric powered wheelchair and it reclines on its have. Or we do have a wheelchair lift where they can wheel their wheelchair onto it and we can use that wheelchair carry to set the patient back in order for us to accomplish the requires that they are wished-for,” explained dental hygienist Laurie Nichols.

She mentioned maintaining clients in their wheelchairs will make it easier for her to maneuver.

Possibly far more importantly, it retains them comfortable though another person performs in their mouth.

“That’s their chair,” Nichols explained. “They know how to run the electric wheelchair. They know that it could be cushioned for their comfort, it could have a back relaxation, could have a neck rest and so that is their chair, that’s their motor auto, which is their residence so they’re extremely comfy staying in their possess wheelchair that they occur in with.”

“Everything that we didn’t have prior to we have here for her dental desires,” said Charleen Ovren, Robin Ovren’s mother.

Charleen Ovren said obtaining a very good dentist for her daughter was not often quick prior to discovering the Loved ones Well being Middle.

“For all of us it is incredibly important but especially for Robin,” she said. “And Robin’s lucky simply because she will get her enamel cleaned every three months and that certainly allows her retain her teeth.”

For Nichols, it’s fantastic to be able to make a change in her patients’ lives.

“Everybody arrives in, they may not like the dentist but they have the finest personalities,” she claimed. “They are often happy. If I can make their working day a little little bit brighter when they leave listed here, that’s an accomplishment.”

The Family members Well being Center’s dental clinics are viewed as protection web amenities. This suggests they’ll treat any individual irrespective of income degree.

Copyright 2021 WEAU. All rights reserved.

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How to find the best health insurance plan for you and your family : Shots

If you’re buying health insurance outside a job-based plan, you’re in luck this fall. After years of cutbacks and — some say sabotage — of the Affordable Care Act during the Trump administration, the Biden administration is pulling out the stops to help people find good health plans on HealthCare.gov right now — the open enrollment period starts this week. You will have more time to sign up, more free help choosing a plan, and a greater likelihood you’ll be eligible for subsidies to help keep down the costs of a health plan you buy via the ACA marketplace.

Still, picking health insurance can be hard work, even if you’re choosing a plan through your employer. There are a lot of confusing terms, and the process forces you to think hard about your health and your finances. Plus you have to navigate all of it on a deadline, often with only a few-week period to explore your options and make decisions.

Whether you’re aging out of your parent’s plan and picking one for the first time, or you’re in a plan that no longer works for you and you’re ready to switch things up, or you’re uninsured and want to see if you have any workable options, there’s good news. Asking yourself a few simple questions can help you zero in on the right plan from all those on the market.

Here are some tips on where to look and how to get trustworthy advice and help if you need it.

Tip #1: Know where to go

It’s not always obvious where to look for health insurance. “In this country it is a truly wacky patchwork quilt of options,” says Sabrina Corlette, who co-directs the Center on Health Insurance Reform at Georgetown University.

If you’re 65 or older, you’re eligible for Medicare. It’s a federally run program — the government pays for much of your health care. You might also be eligible if you have certain disabilities. For those already enrolled in Medicare or in a Medicare Advantage plan, the open enrollment period to switch up your supplemental health and prescription drug plans for 2022 runs through Dec. 7 this year.

For those under age 65, Corlette says, “the vast majority of us get our coverage through our employer. The employer typically will cover between 70% and 90% of your premium costs, which is pretty nice.” Check with your supervisor or your company’s human resources department to find out what, if any, plans are available to you through your job.

Then there’s Medicaid, the health insurance program for people with low incomes, that covers around 80 million people — nearly one in four Americans. It’s funded by both the federal and state governments, but run by each state, so whether you’re eligible depends on where you live.

For practically everyone else, the place to go is Healthcare.gov, where you can shop for insurance in the marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act, also known

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