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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Russian attacks hit at least 9 Ukrainian medical facilities, visual evidence shows

The maternity hospital was one of many health-care facilities hit amid Russia’s siege on key Ukrainian cities since the nation’s invasion in late February, a new Washington Post analysis reveals.

To confirm which hospitals have been damaged, The Post examined more than 500 videos and photos, reviewed social media posts from the hospitals, spoke to witnesses and hospital employees, and compared key details from these incidents to reports from Ukrainian officials, the United Nations, the World Health Organization, Human Rights Watch, the Center for Information Resilience and ACLED, a group that monitors armed conflict around the world.

The Post’s visual analysis verified nine incidents, including the strike in Mariupol, where hospitals faced direct damage as a result of a reported Russian attack. There were fatalities in at least three of the incidents verified by The Post, according to officials. Three of the facilities specifically served women or children.


Medical facilities hit by Russian attacks

Separatist-

controlled

area

Crimea

Annexed by Russia

in 2014

Control areas as of March 10

Medical facilities hit by Russian attacks

Separatist-

controlled

area

Crimea

Annexed by Russia

in 2014

Control areas as of March 10

Medical facilities are considered “protected objects” under the law unless they are used for military purposes, said Priyanka Motaparthy, director of the Counterterrorism, Armed Conflict and Human Rights Project at Columbia University Law School’s Human Rights Institute. “When you are hitting in the hospital, you’re not only risking killing people who are receiving medical care, who are sick and wounded, but also because of the long-term effects on a civilian population,” she said. Motaparthy added that the opposing party should give warning if possible before it attacks.

International law experts who reviewed The Post’s findings said they appear to show evidence that Russian forces have violated these laws. In at least one case, a pro-Russian media outlet has claimed that a hospital damaged in Ukraine was used for military purposes. The Post found no evidence to support this claim. Motaparthy said an investigation into the incidents should consider any statement the Russian military gave for why it struck the hospital, but hospitals are presumed to be civilian.

In one of the deadliest incidents The Post reviewed, Russian forces fired a ballistic missile carrying a cluster munition, which hit the Central City Hospital in Vuhledar, a town in the separatist Donetsk region on Feb. 24, according to visuals obtained and analyzed in a report by Human Rights Watch. The munition hit just outside the hospital, killing four and injuring 10 civilians, six of whom were health-care workers. Human Rights Watch confirmed the events by speaking to a doctor and official from the hospital and verifying photos posted to social media and sent directly by hospital staff. The Post confirmed the geolocation of the photo of damage to the hospital by comparing it to available source imagery on Google Earth, and the incident was also reported by ACLED. The World Health Organization, which

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States Had been Sharing Covid Exam Kits. Then Omicron Hit.

In a handful of small months, states have gone from donating surplus quick covid-19 checks to states with shortages to hoarding them as desire pushed by the spike in scenarios strains supplies.

Very last January, North Dakota had amassed 2.7 million Abbott Laboratories BinaxNOW quick covid exams from the federal authorities — about 3½ assessments for each person in the condition of 775,000 men and women.

The condition had so quite a few covid assessments that it donated a overall of 1 million of them to Montana and Pennsylvania as aspect of a sharing plan between states that shaped when the delta variant was the dominant strain and covid outbreaks rippled throughout the nation in waves. But now that omicron has turned the entire country into a coronavirus hot place and pushed up demand from customers for checks all over the place, that method has been upended.

Some states are keeping on to expired checks for use as a very last vacation resort. In early January, North Dakota was one particular of them, with a stockpile of 600,000 expired quick checks.

“I want to make absolutely sure that our point out is included,” reported Nicole Brunelle, North Dakota’s chief nursing officer. “The total country is fighting for these exams.”

Jasmine Reed, a spokesperson for the Facilities for Disorder Command and Prevention, claimed the state exchange software has stopped running, and when federal wellbeing officials are functioning to get it likely yet again, the timing is unclear. “Once covid-19 and its variants started to ramp up and additional tests was required, states no for a longer time experienced a surplus to give extra checks,” Reed explained.

By early January, some states, together with Montana and Indiana, had depleted their inventory of immediate covid checks for distribution. Alongside with North Dakota, Florida and Maryland have held on to expired assessments in hopes the federal authorities would increase the tests’ shelf everyday living.

The inevitable outcome: States have absent from cooperation to competitiveness.

“Emergency management and federal aid across the place is crafted on the notion that we won’t have a will need all over the place at after,” reported Ken Sturrock, a Colorado-centered regional crisis coordinator for the U.S. Office of Wellness and Human Products and services.

The state check exchange application was developed amid issues that exams would expire unused. Federal wellbeing businesses developed an on the web platform that states could use to relay what they experienced or wanted.

Some states have gone exterior the application to trade assessments. For instance, Mississippi donated additional than 79,000 checks to Pennsylvania in November, claimed Jim Craig, senior deputy for the Mississippi Point out Division of Well being.

For the states that participated, the exchange program was efficient in pinpointing and shipping and delivery checks to destinations in have to have throughout the region via much of 2021. Colorado, for instance, acquired checks from five states from May perhaps via August of final calendar year, bringing in about 340,000 kits that had

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