Lino Lakes family left with $20K hospital bill after toddler's COVID-19 treatment deemed not necessary
LINO LAKES, Minn. (FOX 9) - Today, 21-month-old Gabi is a happy and healthy girl who loves playing with her big sister and her parents. But back in May of this year, things looked very different for the toddler.
"Our daycare called and said, 'She's not acting like herself. You have to come quickly and grab her,'" said mom Gillian Kubitschek.
"I knew instantly something was really, really wrong."
Gabi's breathing was labored and Kubitschek and her husband, Josh, immediately took their daughter to the closest urgent care.
"They said, 'You can either stay here and we are going to end up calling 911 for an ambulance ride or you can drive yourself (to the hospital)'", said Kubitschek.
From Lino Lakes, they rushed to M Health Fairview Masonic Children's Hospital, where Gabi was diagnosed with COVID-19 and enterovirus.
After hours in the emergency room, the toddler was admitted to the hospital for 3 days and was on oxygen.
"The pain and just how lifeless she seemed at the time and the cable and the cords and the oxygen and the IV... it's an experience I never want to go through again," said dad Josh.
Once Gabi recovered, the family says they were shocked when they received a $20,000 bill from their insurance provider at the time, Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Kubitschek tells Fox 9 the insurance company denied coverage, claiming prior authorization was needed and that Gabi's treatment was not "medically necessary".
"You think...the doctor wants to admit her. The doctor knows what's best. You just say, 'Yes please, take care of my child.' I don't think, 'Oh hold on! Can you call Blue Cross Blue Shield? Is this medically necessary?' Because you automatically think it is," said Kubitschek.
Kubitschek estimates she's spent more than 100 hours on the phone with the insurance company, but things remain at a standstill.
"We just keep going back and forth and back and forth and it's really not getting anywhere."
FOX 9 reached out to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, which provided the following statement: "Due to privacy laws, we are not able to comment on specifics at this time. However, based on our review, we believe this is a case where the insurance is provided by another health plan. We are in the process of reaching out to that plan to see what we can do to help clarify the situation for the family."
The Kubitschek's say they want to share their story with the public now to prevent other families from experiencing what they are.
"We are in the middle of a pandemic. This should be covered. If this gives someone else a little hope and courage enough to say, 'Maybe I should ask questions about my bill'...then this will all be worth it in the end," said Kubitschek.