Monday, May 5, 2014

A (Long) Story & Lessons Learned

I'm going to tell you a story.

20 months ago, I had an adorable baby boy. He's the best part of my life, but that's beside the point. 
The point is that I had him and that costs money.
Lots of money.
Growing up, I didn't like learning about money, investments, spending, etc. I knew how to window shop and buy things I needed, but insurance-type stuff was not a favorite subject.
Therefore, when I had said cute baby boy, I hadn't done much homework on my insurance coverage.
I got on my Dad's insurance because, as a Dr in Arkansas, he has the BEST insurance anyone could offer. 
I was under 26, so I was legally ok to do that.
But it was a big big big mistake.
I didn't study up enough. I got in and couldn't get other insurance when I found out I was very much out of network. So I was stuck.
After having the baby, I got a HUGE bill. Insurance only covered about 2,000 of our 9,000+ bill.

Needless to say, there were many tears and frustrations had that day. 
And the day after. 
And quite a few after that. 
When I talked it out with the insurance lady, if I had gone to the other major hospital in the valley, a lot more would have been covered. 
I was furious. Entirely at myself. Why hadn't I done some more homework? Why didn't I look at that? My fault….Why didn't I…. It wasn't healthy, but I did it.
A lesson learned was to do lots of research. If your dr costs more because insurance doesn't cover her bills, drop her and find someone else!
So we called our hospital, filled out a buttload of paperwork, and got on a payment plan. We would be paying $200 a month for about a year and then 100 a month for the next 7 years to pay it off. 
We tried talking them down on what they would charge to no avail. We were stuck paying $100 a month for both C's nursery bill and my hospitalization bill (for having the adorable, expensive baby).

It was frustrating. I felt tied down.

When J lost his job in November, we stopped paying both bills. It was too much to spend $200 a month when we were living off of our savings account. 
When he got a new job in January, we were being paid half as much as the previous job. YIKES!
So we still couldn't pay our $200 bills!

We went to the offices for the hospital and talked to a lady in charge of financial services. M. She told us that we needed to reapply for financial aid (to get a new payment plan). She also said that we should do that application after the new taxes for 2013 were done so we could prove we'd lost the job.

So we went home to do that dumb paperwork again. Seriously. Bank statements from 4 accounts, entire list of expenditures and assets, income stubs, lots of paper.

While we waited for taxes to be completed, we got a letter (9 actually) from a collections agency. 
Oh crap.
I've heard about those. Frustrating and nagging people. I was terrified. And confused. Why was it sent to collections without an official warning?
They hadn't sent over C's nursery or my hospital bill to collections, but it was C's seizure bills. 
Another lesson learned was that if you get more bills added to your account, you have to call them to put those onto your payment plan. Otherwise, those bills will be sent to collections.
I made lots of phone calls after getting those 9 letters to figure out my options.
Option one: Pay a down payment and then make a payment plan with the collections agency.
Option two: Apply to the hospital to get the bills sent back over to them. Didn't seem likely to happen.
Option three: Pay it all to the collections agency within 30 days and not have to pay 10%

We chose option 3. The hospital wasn't going to give us a discount and we figured since our savings account was mercifully replenished again, we'd use it to help us get out from this burden.

Then, I got the paperwork for a new payment plan put together within 2 days and hand-delivered it to M's office like she suggested. That way it went quickly and she could handle it herself therefore expediting the process.
We felt pretty secure. Based on the numbers, we were DEFINITELY getting a smaller payment plan and we knew our account for C's and my bills were on hold while they debated on our financial ability to pay them over the next probably 14 years by then.

Until today.

After my run, I got the mail and there were a few letters from the collections agency. 
Wait a minute. I'd paid off C's seizure bill.
However, the amount they were asking for was the amount we owed for C's nursery bill. That was on hold. 
The poor girl at the hospital financial services was yelled at by this emotionally charged, angry mama bear.
She looked it up and couldn't find a new application for assistance/new payment plan. So she said she'd get to the bottom of it and get back to me.
Feeling better but still livid, I went back to my breakfast and getting through the day.

A little later, I got a phone call from the number I called to talk to the poor girl at the financial services. Worried, but knowing I was right, gosh-dang-it, I answered. It was M. She had gotten an email from the girl and was wanting to know what had happened. 
Her records showed that she urged us to give our new application to them in person but that she hadn't gotten anything.
I had driven the 40 minutes there with my 20 month old using GPS, because my husband with a map for a brain wasn't there, given them my paperwork, watched as the 2 secretaries at the front desk checked to make sure everything was there, they promised it would be on M's desk the next morning, I'd gotten lost trying to get back out of that part of downtown Boise, and it was gone?!

What the heck?!
I told her I'd left it with the secretaries MAYBE the next day! So she said she'd "put on her detective hat" and find it.

I got another phone call from M about 15 minutes later and she had found the paperwork. 
(should be fired!….sorry….don't mind me. Just annoyed at those girls…)
So M said she'd hand deliver my paperwork to the right people to get it going as fast as possible.

It was good enough closure for me. I wasn't blamed and maybe I'd get some rest!


An hour later, M calls again. I wish I could get a recording of it.
She told me that she'd taken my paperwork in and the hospital had decided to forgive ALL of our debts to them. We'd paid our monthly bills on time and had worked with them and -my phrasing here- jumped through their hoops and dealt with their problems of losing our stuff, so they were forgiving about $9,000 of bills.
I instantly burst into tears.
I couldn't believe it.
What a huge weight lifted!
What a blessing!

I called J while he was at work -usually a big deal if I call… and I was still crying. The poor guy thought C had taken a spill or had a seizure or something. I quickly told him it was good news and told him all of our debts were forgiven.
He was shocked and thrilled.
I got off the phone and cried freely some more. I feel so blessed.

Again, I see the blessings I have received from paying my tithing and fast offering. I am being obedient and I'm being blessed for it. What a wonderful, freeing blessing! I am just so humbled!

The Lord is good and merciful. 


Easter was a lovely time! It came after a crazy few days getting the youth ready for their Roadshow. 3 nights in a row of prep, dress rehearsal, and then the performance.

Easter Sunday was a beautiful, bright, spring day. 
C got an adorable church outfit from his Aunt K, so we all matched him as best as we could.
I didn't get a picture of it, because Easter Sunday also brought an angry toddler to the group. 
Holy. Moly.
I tell you what, he was insanely grumpy! All day! 
He went to Nursery pretty happy, but when his usual teachers left to be replaced by substitutes, he was NOT ok with it. He cried and cried and cried. So they found J, who was teaching music in Primary, who then found me. I was teaching about Charity in Gospel Principles! (impromptu. the teacher who was supposed to be teaching that day didn't quite plan very well…)
So J came to me, because C was wailing for his mama. I had to step out. Thankfully, Maria took over the rest of the lesson, and I assume it went well. 
C calmed down with both of us there together, but was NOT ok with one without the other. So I skipped Young Women's and hung out in Primary. He promptly stole some (willing) kid's candy and did Popcorn Popping with the senior Primary. He loved it. Silly boy.

J's family through his Mom has a tradition.
They decorate their Easter Eggs-really well, too. It's kind of a serious affair.
Then they take them to a hill. This hill is a very specific hill. It needs to be steep, a little rocky, and straight. There's a park in Eagle where we've found a favorite hill.
We hike to the top, put the eggs on the ground, and release. Egg rolling.
It's strangely fun to watch them crack and split and explode when you roll the yolk only.

These are the eggs we rolled with J's family. (forgot a before picture…..)

Saturday, J's parents flew off to Hawaii, so we invited friends over! I'm sad we didn't get a picture with everyone, but it was lovely!
The Aja's came after lunch and decorated eggs while C was asleep. We decorated outside on our new patio furniture. (lime green. I love it)

My egg. On the back of my spring tree egg, it says "He is risen."

C's egg -a ball!

J's egg. A ferocious orc named Argonon from our DND game

Then we took our eggs to a hill here in Nampa that would have to do for proximity reasons. It was by a train track and steep, but had a turn. Most of our eggs got stuck there. But it was fun! 
The Aja's didn't think we were terribly insane afterwards! :)

Andrew, Salem, and Miriam. 

Then we went home and cooked. 
I made ham, ham sauce, new potatoes and sour cream, and green beans. Miriam provided yummy rolls.
As we were sitting down, the other couple, the Jones', called me. Becky had been feeling sick, so their attendance was iffy. She was feeling better and wanted to know how comfortable we were if they came.
Of course, they came and ate the yummy food!

I sent this picture to my Dad who was in Russia at the time. He sent back "Wish I were there" 
I was sooooo proud of myself cooking a meal to make my Dad want to be in Idaho instead of a fancy place in Russia! Hoorah!!

After dinner, we put eggs out in the yard for Becky's 2 year old, Hyrum, and C to look for.
It was fun to see C figure out what was in these eggs and that he wanted to find them. I loved it.

Then it was off to bed for most of the kids. We have a crib, a play pen, and a moses basket, so we were able to put most kids to bed! 

Once the littles were in bed, we played a game whose name escapes me now, but it was fun! It's a haunted house game where one of your friends turns against you. It's kind of fun and intense and creepy. I think J's sister, K would LOVE it. :)

It was a lovely Easter. 
I realize as I write all of these festivities down that I didn't say much about the Savior. 
I am thankful for a day in which to remember such wonderful love. It's a day of new beginnings, new hope, and a day to remember that we are saved from His gracious gift of the atonement. I am so indebted to Him and am thankful for Him. Through Him, all things are possible. Even a cranky, tired, 20 month old and a stressed out hostess are able to be dealt with because of Him. ;)