Thursday, July 10, 2008

Fighting Hospitals vs. Fighting Insurance Companies

I don't want to step on any toes here. I don't want to come off mightier-than-thou (or crunchier-than-thou). So I will walk gently through this next statement. I can't imagine why someone with a healthy pregnancy would want to give birth in a hospital.

Okay, I know some people who had fine birthing experiences; they all had 2 hour labors with no complications. And I know some people who are very glad they went to a hospital; and they had several complications, most of which they knew of before hand. But barring the quickest labors imaginable and the most complicated and deadly labors, I can't imagine why the middle majority of people would want to give birth in a hospital.

We did, twice. Both times we had terrible experiences. It wasn't that our doctors were bad (well, one of them, at least) and it wasn't that we weren't prepared. It was that there was so much monitoring, i.v.-ing, and a constant push for intervention. We've had two really rough labors. And even the time that the hospital followed our birthing plan, the nurses got fed-up with our insistence that we be given privacy or our refusal to have a monitor strapped on, or the fact that my wife wanted to take a walk during the labor.

It's a simple thing, really. While we are at a holy and magical moment in our life, these men and women are at their jobs. They have a long day ahead of them, their own kids in childcare, etc. and they just want to make their day easier. Their easy customers come in and ask for the intervention and keep their mouths closed. Then in come my wife and me, long-hard labor and a refusal to let them get the paperwork done that they want filled out right now.

Then, afterward, they want to inexplicable take the baby away to put it under a heater and monitor its heartbeat, despite the fact that it's better for the baby's temperature and breathing to be sitting skin-to-skin while nursing from its mother.

We're not doing it this time. We won't fight the hospital anymore. We found a birthing center.

And despite the fact that a birthing center is cheaper than a hospital birth, we can't afford it without insurance. And our insurance company doesn't want to pay. So instead of fighting the hospital, we're fighting the insurance company.

Bureaucracy. There's no other way to put it. Well, except for nightmare. Our policy states that it will cover any in-network birthing center. Yet, there are no in-network birthing centers in our state. So, according to our state laws, they have to cover the birthing center of our choice. And they are covering the birthing center of our choice for at least two other couples with our same plan. Yet when you talk to them on the phone, they act like such a thing is downright unheard of.

I've been on the phone for about three hours with them this last week. They trade me off from person to person, department to department, each one claiming that they aren't the one to talk to, that the next person can take care of that for me. Until, finally, I am either lost during a call transfer or I hit an answering machine.

It's crap, I tell you, crap.

But I'll go on fighting. I know my rights and I know it can be done. I'd rather spend hours navigating a bureaucracy than have nurses trying to frighten my wife into medications and watch a nurse cart my child away to a heat lamp. It's a choice we've made and we're sticking with it.


Justin Ferrell said...

Check out It's a blog that might have some shortcut ideas for you. Good luck and keep up the good fight.

Sol Smith said...

Thanks, Justin, I will check it out!

r said...

Have you considered home or unassisted birth?

Sol Smith said...

You know, I've considered unassisted, but I would have a real time-limit on it. Our last baby was 10.5 lbs and she was stuck in transition for over 6 hours. Our first was no walk in the park, either. We covet those friend of ours who pump out babies in 2.5 hours.

We'd do a home birth, but those are expensive, too. The cheapest we've seen--I think--was $3k. That's big money.

That said, I'd go either one before I do a hospital again.

cesca said...

Good on you for fighting the system - it's crap!

It's not til I read other blogs from other countries that I realise how good we have it here... I've had two homebirths (never had a hospital birth) and I paid not a single cent, not in insurance nor direct to the midwife. Government footed the bill each time. I used to think that every country worked this way until I started reading other people's stories on the internet.

If your wife wants some good positive homebirth stories to 10lb 10oz babies, then she can check out the links on my sidebar. :-)

Wishing you all the best with the insurance company!!

First Time Dad said...

I totally feel your pain, Sol, but I think you are throwing the baby out with the bath water. My wife and I just had our first and I am pretty sure we couldn't have done it with out the support of our amazing hospital support staff. They totally respected our need to do it our way. And then when things got rough, they helped guide us through what could have been a catastrophic outcome in way that never made us feel like we had lost control.

Maybe it is a geography thing. Wanna come visit the "crunchy" Northwest?

Sol Smith said...

That sounds great. I'm always glad to hear stories like that--they give me hope.

Yeah, the crunchy NW would be a good place for us, I think.

Innocence Underrated said...

as a woman who likes your site, i agree hospital births SUCK. from my doctor "helping" things get started to the induction to all the interventions, and c-section talk. I tried to do just ONE thing I wanted but it didn't happen...except when I yelled at the very end at the doctor "DON'T CUT ME!" she at least listened to that, the doctor i'd never seen in my life. I'm doing homebirth all the way from now on.
Have you tried writing? I've noticed I get farther when things are in writing with annoying companies.

Katharos said...

Good for you. Don't give up the fight with the ridiculous insurance company!

Amazingly we have been blessed with two wonderfully intimate and relatively intervention-free births in one of our local the midwest of all places!

My son and I had a good 45 minutes of nursing and skin-to-skin contact before they even took him to weigh him! They were happy to comply with my wishes that he not receive vaccines in the hospital, and they only removed him from my sight once througout our hospital stay.