SERIES: Healthcare in America #24, Sandra Joy Stein, This Is the Bronx

This is part of an ongoing series that gives Bronx writers a chance to share their personal stories on the state of healthcare in America.
By Sandra Joy Stein, December 17, 2018

A Mother’s Fight for her Son’s Life

I am the mother of a nine-year-old boy who desperately needs New York State to pass the New York Health Act.

Seven years ago, my perfectly healthy and typically developing almost-three-year-old son woke up having a seizure. He was admitted to our neighborhood hospital where over the next week and a half we watched him lose his ability to walk, talk, swallow, focus his eyes, and reliably breathe. He was eventually diagnosed with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis.

About two months into his hospitalization, I started receiving calls from the billing office for all of the doctors practicing at the hospital, to ask why I kept choosing out-of-network providers. I was informed that while the hospital had a contract with our insurance, the doctors did not. In truth, I did not have a single choice of provider while my son was in-patient and seen by whomever happened to be on service.

I was told that I had been sent to collections for non-payment of bills that I didn’t even know I had as I held bedside vigil for my son while he teetered for months on the border of life and death....

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