Jennifer Huculak-Kimmel billed $950K US after giving birth in U.S.
A warm weather holiday has turned into a hot mess for a Saskatchewan couple. A Canadian woman gave birth 9 weeks early while vacationing in Hawaii 2013. Her baby daughter had to be hospitalized.
Two Month Hospitalization
Jennifer Huculak unexpectedly gave birth nine weeks early. She stayed on bed rest in the hospital for six weeks and her child, born premature, was placed in intensive care for two months.
Million Dollar Baby
The family is being called the 'Million dollar baby family' and they are wanting changes to insurance claims. Jennifer Huculak-Kimmel billed $950K in US dollars after giving birth in U.S.
The family had purchased travel insurance, but were turned down by Blue Cross, which cited the mother had a "pre-existing condition." The insurer said a bladder infection two months before the pregnancy meant Huculak-Kimmel was ineligible to receive coverage. Father, Darren Kimmel is not happy at all with how the insurance claim was handled.
When they initially bought the insurance, the family claims that nobody ever asked about any pre-existing conditions by the insurance agent. They disclosed everything that was asked on the form. The insurance representative asked the questions and the family answered all questions honestly. The main question asked was if Jennifer was 32 weeks pregnant and at the time, she was only 24 weeks pregnant.
Letter From Blue Cross
Hucalak said she received a letter from Blue Cross stating that they would not pay any of the expenses. The letter says: “Ms. Huculak was diagnosed and treated for a high-risk pregnancy in the six months prior to departure. As Ms. Huculak is currently hospitalized and being treated for this high-risk pregnancy, any expenses incurred are not eligible under the terms of your policy.”
Don't Pay The Bill
Scott Stanley who is a lawyer based in Vancouver, has worked on cases like this before. His advice is that the family should not pay the bill. He claims that he has not seen the health authority come into Canada to enforce and collect on the bill.
The tragedy is that there's nothing Jennifer could have done differently to avoid this situation. There have been many cases similar to this one where people have gone to the US for vacation and they've had a minor medical condition, but that was enough to disqualify them.
The Canadian insurance industry needs to be reformed to be able to better help customers needing coverage and care. Jennifer Huculak-Kimmel wants to see this happen so another family is not put in the situation her family was. There should be a better way to purchase travel insurance. Blue Cross should change their policies on how they sell the policies and create a way for their salesmen to be more accountable for what they do.
Too Little, Too Late
During the couple's hospital stay, Blue Cross had contacted them, saying their insurance had run out after their baby was born. The family tried to be medevaced back to Saskatchewan as soon as they heard that their claim had been denied, but were not successful. One company wouldn't take the family and another company said it would require a full surgical team to travel with the mother on the plane.
Collection agencies started contacting the family to get payment in July, but the family has so far avoided their calls. The family has decided not to pay any of the bill and is in no position to make any deals with the collection agencies. The family has considered declaring bankruptcy but are not at that point yet.
People Want To Help
People on social media have already started talking about online fundraising for the family, but the family doesn't want that. They do not want to take people's money. Many people on social media have suggested the family gets a lawyer. They are working towards doing that and hope that all of this bad publicity will make Blue Cross come forward and admit that one of their salesmen made a mistake.
Here's a brief timeline of events in this case: Oct. 26, 2013: Family buys travel insurance from Blue Cross
Oct. 27: Family flies to Hawaii
Oct. 29: Jennifer Huculak-Kimmel's water breaks, medevaced to Kapi'olani Medical Centre for Women and Children
Nov. 8: Blue Cross contacts family, telling them their claim has been denied
Dec. 10: After weeks of bed rest, baby Reece is born by caesarean section