Family hit with nearly $1 million bill after premature birth

Family hit with nearly $1 million bill after premature birth (Image 1)

A Saskatchewan family is facing a $1 million bill from an American hospital. The woman gave birth to a premature baby while on vacation. Now, her travel insurance won’t won’t pay up.

Jennifer Huculak-Kimmel is happy her daughter Reece is so strong and healthy. She was born nine weeks premature, while on vacation in Hawaii.

A couple of days into her vacation, her water broke. She was put in hospital for six weeks bed rest, and her baby was in intensive care for two months.

Jennifer said, “Well, it’s terrifying. You’re on an island, you’re stuck in the hospital, I wasn’t allowed even to walk out of the hospital.”

But her travel insurance, Blue Cross, wouldn’t pay the bill. The company said a bladder infection before the trip was a pre-existing condition. That meant the bill, $950,000 American, was her responsibility.

“Blue Cross has pretty much washed their hands of it. They sent me every bill that they ever received from Hawaii,” she said.

Steven Lewis is a Health policy expert and a professor at Simon Fraser University. He says it’s a good thing she double checked with her doctor before traveling. And says if the doctor signed off on her travel, that should be enough for the insurance company.

“Well, I don’t think we can be our own doctors. Either we do, or we don’t have a pre-existing condition, and we’re not likely to know about them unless we’ve been told by our doctors that we have them.

Blue cross wouldn’t respond to a request for an interview. The provincial government has agreed to pay for around 20 thousand dollars in medical fees.

But that’s a far cry from the 950,000 owing.

The family still hasn’t decided on what to do next. It could fight Blue Cross in court, but lawyers cost money. All they’re doing right now is focusing on what matters, a healthy baby girl.

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