It’s no secret that the cost of healthcare is unaffordable for many Americans. In 2013 alone, about two million people filed for Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy help because their unpaid medical bills were too much to handle.
But even being covered by health insurance isn’t always enough to prevent a medical bankruptcy, as one Wisconsin woman’s current situation proves.
According to a Nov. 12 Gawker article, Megan Rothbauer, 29, is now considering seeking help filing bankruptcy from a local bankruptcy attorney after being taken to the “wrong” hospital emergency room while she was unconscious due to cardiac arrest last year. During her 16-day stay at Madison’s St. Mary’s Hospital, Rothbauer’s heart stopped for nearly a full hour, and she spent the next 10 days in a medically-induced coma. The last six days of her stay were spent in the hospital’s cardiac unit.
Because she was brought to a hospital that’s out-of-network for her insurance plan, she faced a total medical bill of $254,000. Blue Cross Blue Shield was required to cover more than half the bill under the terms of the Affordable Care Act, and despite the fact that Rothbauer negotiated with the hospital to bring her remaining part of the bill down by 90%, she will still have to pay $50,000 out-of-pocket.
If Rothbauer had been taken to Meriter Hospital, which is about three blocks from St. Mary’s, she would only have to pay $1,500.
The fact that Rothbauer had no agency in which hospital would save her life has no effect on the bottom line of her medical expenses, Gawker reports.
“I was in a coma. I couldn’t very well wake up and say, ‘Hey, take me to the next hospital.’ It was the closet hospital to where I had my event, so naturally the ambulance took me there,” she said.
Rothbauer also faces medical bills for the ambulance ride to St. Mary’s and for physical therapy, according to the New York Daily News.
She had been planning to get married to her fiancé, but the couple will now have to postpone the wedding and look into help with filing bankruptcy with a local bankruptcy attorney, Gawker reports.
“I think my hardest issue is I had no control and I still have no control over what is my future,” Rothbauer said.