From norovirus to the NICU: Mother and son incur $70,000 in medical bills

By member Michelle Danreuther, Loma, Mont.

From the July 2018 issue of Heartfelt Magazine.

I contracted norovirus when I was 22 weeks pregnant with our youngest child, Cove. Its effects led to a very difficult winter, a premature birth, an 11-day stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and a tailspin of healthcare costs.

More than $70,000.

Though I knew CHM shares most maternity costs through its Gold program, I still had my doubts during our time of need. However, our recent medical events and CHM members’ faithfulness now leaves me with peace because CHM has proven they have our backs.

My parents were the first to tell us about CHM. They knew my husband, Cory, and I were dissatisfied with what we had at the time because it was expensive and impractical for our needs.

Switching to CHM was a no-brainer because of its faith-based philosophy, affordability, maternity program and the Brother’s Keeper catastrophic bills program. (Editor’s note: To learn more about Brother’s Keeper, visit our catastrophic bills page.) Our Montana farming and ranching family needed the safety net provided by Brother’s Keeper; we also appreciated that with CHM dependent children together are only one unit, regardless of the number of children. We chose Gold for the children and me; Cory became a Silver member.

When we learned we were expecting Cove, I cheerfully called CHM to share the news and learn how to properly submit medical bills for sharing, especially because we planned to use the midwife who helped with the births of our first two children. (Editor’s note: For a video explaining how to submit medical bills, visit our Videos page. For a step-by-step maternity guide, click here.)

The CHM representative graciously answered my questions, explained how to submit bills online using the Member Portal and shared her excitement about our growing family.

I followed her advice and the online instructions. Submitting my maternity bills and the Needs Processing forms was so easy that I didn’t touch base again with CHM until several months later when my health began to change.

During the 22nd week of my pregnancy I became very sick—so much so that my husband and I made a trip to our local medical center’s emergency room. Doctors pumped me with fluids and various medications and diagnosed me with norovirus.

Though I began to heal, the virus stunted the development of a strong amniotic sac for our growing little one; Cove was born nearly six weeks early. He was admitted to the NICU because his oxygen levels were low and he wouldn’t nurse.

Meanwhile, I was sick with severe nausea for 12 hours before being taken to the emergency room. My mom and mother-in-law stayed with me while Cory spent time with Cove.

I longed to be with my husband and the new wonder born to us. I was very grateful when a strong dose of medication stopped my vomiting and enabled me to sleep and recover.

The next morning Cory and I learned that our baby’s lungs were not developing fully and that he’d need help with breathing and feeding. Cove rallied during the next 11 days. Finally, we were able to bring him home.

On hospital discharge day we visited the billing office. We said we were self-pay patients and that we were willing to pay out-of-pocket that day.* Doing so secured a discount of over 40 percent and I submitted the bill to CHM for reimbursement.

We are proud to be part of a ministry that brings glory to God and we want others to experience the same peace we did: the peace that comes from knowing that God has everything under control. He was taking care of both our health and finances.
Thank you to those who answered our questions, prayed with us, cared for us and made our medical journey much less burdensome.

*Editor’s note: Please don’t pay medical bills upfront unless you receive a discount of at least 40 percent. Paying upfront means that negotiations cease. If you’re offered a discount under 40 percent, please instead set up a payment plan with your healthcare provider(s) until CHM shares your medical bills. For more information, see Guideline L.

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