Woman Gets Hit with $600 Bill for Her Stillborn Baby Who Only Lived for 3 Minutes

Twenty20

Doctor writing medical paperwork
Twenty20

Losing your baby after nine months of pregnancy is a traumatic and heartbreaking experience on its own. But can you imagine getting sent a hefty medical bill after it was all over? One mom is sharing her own harrowing experience on Twitter this week, after she received a $600 bill for a child who lived for just three minutes -- and it's sparking a passionate conversation about the current state of health care in America.

  • In a tweet, Jennifer Gunter shared that her baby received no medical care on the day he was born.

    Gunter, who happens to be an OB/GYN herself and works in the same department where the bill came from, posted the shocking story on Twitter on September 14. It was in response to a simple question posed by Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders: "What’s the most absurd medical bill you have ever received?" 

    The reponses from Twitter came fast and furious, but right away, Gunter's stood out from the rest.

    "$600 for my son who lived about three minutes," Gunter wrote. "He received no medical care. At all. As he died almost immediately he didn’t get enrolled in my insurance plan, so I got the bill. From the hospital where I was a doctor."

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  • The mom added that the bill came as soon as she got home from the hospital -- and it was devastating.

    "And then I called the billing department and literally had to argue with them about my son being dead and they didn’t believe me that I let him die without medical care," she added. "I am literally explaining how some babies are born to die. They say, 'Too bad.'"

  • The heartbreaking tale is almost too infuriating to read. Ultimately, however, it's what led the mom to become a patient advocate.

    After her traumatic phone call with the hospital billing department, Gunter said she "wrote a very threatening e-mail to the hospital CEO and told him I would call the newspaper ... and tell everyone how my own hospital tried to bill me for care my dead baby never received."

    The mom's heartbreaking post immediately went viral, and it has racked up more than 147,000 likes to date. It's easy to see why. 

    The story is a heartbreaking reminder of how the US health care system functions, and offers just a small glimpse into the battles grieving families face each and every day with medical billing companies. 

  • Of course, Gunter's tale wasn't the only shocking one to come to light in the tweet thread.

    "[A] $120,000 emergency room bill came the day I paid $8,000 for my daughter's funeral," tweeted one user. "She died because she couldn't afford medicine and treatment after she was released. That is what access to healthcare gets you."

    "My daughter, Shalynne's, $350k medical bill to die a needless death," another woman responded. "Treating her and saving her life would have only cost $1,500. All because she couldn't provide proof of insurance."

    Another person paid $2,600 after spending an hour in the ER and receiving a CT scan and an Advil -- only to find out there was nothing seriously wrong.

    "Few years ago in the ER with my daughter suffering a severe asthma attack," one father shared. "Rep from billing came in and made us pay $300 BEFORE they would send in a doctor to give her a breathing treatment."

    The tweets are difficult to read -- but seem to be even more shocking to those who live outside the United States.

    "As somebody from the UK, this sounds just utterly unimaginable and insane to me," another person tweeted. "I've never paid anything for medical treatment in my whole life."

    Health care reform remains one of the most divisive -- and complicated -- topics 2020 candidates have to tackle. And yet, no matter what side of the aisle they seem to be on, most are in agreement: Something needs to change.

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