For the Jay family, they had no idea their new bundle of joy had the possibility of leading them to financial ruin.
Amy and Mac Jay welcomed Evelyn into the world prematurely on January 16 after the couple endured several miscarriages and infertility problems.
They spent two weeks at their newborn’s side as her tiny lungs struggled to work and watched as countless experts at the Alabama hospital worked to save her life.
Finally, the family was able to take the little girl home but the relief was short-lived when Amy opened up a nearly $200,000 hospital bill in March.
Amy gave birth at an out-of-network hospital and although their insurance would cover some of the delivery costs, she was late in adding Evelyn to the plan, resulting in the astronomical charge.
Now the Jay family is facing bankruptcy and are desperately searching for a way to come up with the enormous sum.
Friends of the family have launched a GoFundMe in order to raise a portion of the bill before it’s due at the end of the month.
Amy, 27, said that if Evelyn would have been covered by the insurance, even with the complications, the bill total would be a tenth of what is on the current statement.
Amy described her current situation as a ‘pretty horrific tale’ and wants to spread awareness of what she calls the new ‘American story of healthcare’.
The mother-of-two said she was expecting to pay up to $15,000 in hospital bills through insurance.
Instead, she was hit with a $178,389.47 bill that her insurance refused to cover.
She said her husband went through tremendous efforts to get the best healthcare with his job, even quitting a position he loved to start a new one which had better coverage.
Meaning that Mac quit his job with ‘catastrophic issuance’ to move his family to another state with a position with a better care package.
They moved from North Carolina to Huntsville, Alabama, when Amy was seven months pregnant (around 34 weeks pregnant) in order to take advantage of the new benefits.
However, since Mac started his new job in January, his benefits wouldn’t kick in until the next month – just a week before Amy was due to give birth on February 9.
Not wanting to be uninsured, they decided to take out Cobra insurance for the one month they weren’t covered by the new plan.
Amy said: ‘Growing up in America, I’ve always been told to be insured; not to even let a minute go by without being covered because in that moment something will go wrong.
‘My due date wasn’t until February and we were crossing everything hoping that she wouldn’t come before then.’
The stay-at-home mother said before she went into labor, she double-checked with the hospital to make sure they were covered.
Then at 36 weeks pregnant in mid-January, Amy went into labor – half a month before their new coverage became effective.
She had to have an C-section and although Evelyn wasn’t severely premature, her lungs were.
Amy added: ‘Her lungs were totally premature. Just crying was collapsing her lungs. Her chest was moving as fast as butterfly wings and she was purple and blue.
‘It was very traumatizing. I have no doubt that the doctors and nurses, who were incredible, saved my daughter’s life. They deserved to be paid but I don’t think parents should be stuck with that entire bill.’
The main issue hinges not on the out-of-network hospital, which added to the total cost, but that Evelyn wasn’t added to the insurance plan before she was born.
Amy said her husband had sent an email to an insurance representative asking what needed to be done to make sure Evelyn was covered when she was born, the Friday before she came.
Amy went into labor that following Monday, and lost in the chaos was an out of office response from the representative that same day.
The family said they never heard anything back from the insurance company again, and assumed the issue was handled.
But when Amy opened up a bill on March 13, which also happened to be her birthday, they realized Evelyn was never covered.
Amy said: ‘Apparently, you normally have 30 days to add a child to the insurance plan. We just didn’t realize. No one tried to contact us about the notice.
‘We found that out when we received the bill. We barely missed the deadline.’
Amy added: ‘I don’t know anyone who has $20,000 lying around, much less $200,000. It’s unfair that this is what happens when your baby is born sick.
‘We have an unjust and broken system that harms the in-between folks, which is a huge chunk of Americans.
‘We didn’t qualify for Medicaid, we were disqualified by $120 a month in Alabama. In North Carolina we were $70 over the requirement.’
In the United States around 10 percent of babies are born before the 37th week of pregnancy, according to data from 2015.