I have been meaning to write a blog post about this story that has been in the news for the last week. Little Reece was born 9 weeks early while her mom and dad were vacationing in Hawaii. Mom and dad had thought they did everything right by asking their doctor if it was ok to travel and also getting travel health insurance. Blue Cross has now rejected their claim and the parents are on the hook for a million dollars. You can read the story here.
There are a lot of things not a hundred percent clear in this story. But one thing is clear. This family went through a lengthy ordeal where mummy and baby’s lives were on the line, and now they have an impossible financial burden to try to work through.
About a month ago we went to Disney World. I asked my doctor if we were ok to travel, and we made sure we had travel health insurance. Addison had to use that insurance when we went into urgent care for her high fever. Because we didn’t go directly to the hospital we had to wait 3 hours to see if we were “allowed” to go to urgent care. After 3 hours we called again and learned the Insurance company had forgot to call us back. I am actually not sure if our claim was approved but luckily even if not, the bill was very small, less than 200 dollars.
I can’t help but think what would have happened if I or baby had a medical emergency and baby decided to come early. We would have had baby in an extended NICU who might need heart surgery. We might have not been able to travel home without extensive costs because of the omph.
There must be a better way. Right now, travel health insurance is basically purchased independent of any doctor consultation. It is up to the purchaser to come forward with any pre-determined conditions. When asked whether or not we are ok to travel, a doctor answers on just the fact of whether or not you are healthy enough to travel. But I’m not sure that patients would have the foresight to ask the doctor what in the past could be considered a pre-determined condition. I am not even sure that even doctors could foresee what may be considered a pre-determined condition. How far back do you need to go? There are so many of these stories that come up in the news about people who buy travel insurance, and then get into a situation where the claim get rejected. Of all the stories that make it to the news how many don’t make it to the surface?
I’m not sure what the better way is. Do we need to have a nurse visit like when buying life insurance? Does the government need to step in to regulate what an insurance company can reject on claims? I don’t know enough about the insurance industry to comment. Emergency health situations are already heart wrenching and stressful without having to deal with insurance. People in these situations are not purposely out to try to scam the insurance companies by getting sick out of country where they are away from support systems and the familiarity of home. At the very least insurance companies can treat clients with respect and dignity, sit down with them and help them through the paperwork and make the process from buying insurance to putting in a claim as easy possible and with no ambiguity. Until then I guess it is up to each person to ask as many questions as possible. Divulge everything. At least if you know you won’t be covered anyway there is no false sense of security that buying the insurance will protect you from a large bill if something goes wrong.
This family has come through the other end of a very trying situation with a beautiful healthy baby girl in their arms. I hope this new ordeal will be resolved quickly and positively so that they can have less stress and just relish in their little family unit. A lady in Manitoba has set up a crowd funding site here to raise money to help this family pay their medical bills. The family have decided that if they do not have to pay these medical bills out of pocket, they will be donating the funds to the NICU at Saskatoon’s children’s hospital.