When Melissa M. was preparing for the birth of her first child, she applied for and received Medicaid. However, due to a miscommunication, Melissa was unaware that her doctor didn't take her insurance. "I was new to the whole Medicaid process. I didn't know what I was supposed to do." The result? Melissa was hit with a $6,500 doctor's bill for her daughter Delaney's prenatal care and delivery.
Help Through the Medicaid Maze
Melissa, who was earning roughly $17,000 a year, first learned of the $6,500 bill from a collection agent's aggressive calls. "Pregnancy in itself is already stressful, but I thought I was covered and that I'd go home and start my life with my child, and continue working." When the collection calls came, Melissa took action: "I thought, I have to find information. I did a search online and found CSS's Community Health Advocates (CHA) helpline, and left a message, hoping somebody would get back to me."
Sam Salganik of CHA took the call, and immediately began researching options for Melissa. He contacted the hospital, Melissa's doctor, and others, successfully negotiating a reduction in the doctor's bill from $6,500 to $2,114, of which CSS, through our New York Times Neediest Cases program, is contributing a grant of $1,000. Says Sam, "We hope that people call the CHA hotline early--the sooner the better. We're trying to get the word out so that people can get the help they need."
Sam helped Melissa enroll in Family Health Plus, and saw to it that Delaney was retroactively enrolled into Medicaid. Said Melissa, "It really is important for people to get good information and answers to their questions about coverage." She will pay $100 per month until the balance of her bill is paid, and can now move forward with plans to become a court reporter, and continue to build her life with her daughter.