NJ mom puts son’s heart surgery bill online in health care plea

TRENTON, N.J.  — A New Jersey mom says she posted her 3-year-old son's heart surgery bill online to show how potential changes in the health care law could drastically increase out-of-pocket costs for those with life-threatening conditions.

Ali Chandra's son, Ethan, was born with a congenital heart defect known as heterotaxy. He's already had multiple surgeries which have been covered by health insurance.

Chandra is concerned that the existing ban on lifetime benefits caps — meaning insurers can stop paying expenses once medical bills reach a specified limit — may be eliminated as part of the ongoing health care law overhaul.

"A lifetime cap on benefits is the same as saying, 'Sorry, you're not worth keeping alive anymore. You're just too expensive," she wrote in a Twitter post on Friday.

Chandra, a married registered nurse who also has a young daughter, recently posted the bill for Ethan's most recent open heart surgery. The family's share was $500, but she said it would have cost them $231,115 if they didn't have insurance.

Chandra wrote that her son has undergone four heart surgeries overall and will need more going forward. They also make regular visits to numerous doctors and must make emergency room visits trips for sepsis workups if his temperature rises above 100.4 degrees.

Ethan also takes five different prescription medications multiple times a day.

"None of this would be possible without insurance," she wrote in a Twitter post. "He blew past the million dollar mark long ago."