Jennifer Huculak-Kimmel, a Saskatchewan resident and Canadian citizen, was six months pregnant when she and her husband, Darren, decided to travel to Hawaii on vacation. She checked with her doctor, who said it would be fine to take the trip, and bought travel insurance just in case. When her water broke and she had to be airlifted to a Honolulu hospital, she should have been able to take advantage of her six weeks of mandatory bed rest, reassured that she had taken the right steps to ensure proper healthcare coverage. Right?
After about a week in the hospital, Blue Cross contacted the couple to let them know that their coverage had been denied because of a preexisting condition — a bladder infection that had not threatened the pregnancy. The insurance company maintained its stance, despite the company receiving a letter from Huculak-Kimmel’s Canadian doctor ensuring them that the pregnancy was not high-risk. They would be responsible for the hospital bill, which, due to the baby’s premature birth and critical condition (the baby had to stay in a neonatal intensive care unit, which cost more than $10,000 per day) had risen to $950,000.
Medicynical note: Another unique adventure in health care in the United States. The only country in the industrialized world with a category of bankruptcy related to health care expenses.
And our republican friends support the right of insurers to deny coverage if you are sick (pre-existing illness). Yet another sign that our health care system isn’t about health care but rather about money. Yet another example of American exceptionalism.