A trip to Hawaii wound up costing a Canadian couple a lot more than they bargained for.
Jennifer Huculak and her husband, of Saskatchewan, were visiting Hawaii in October of 2013 when her water broke, and she spent the next six weeks on bed rest in a local hospital. Her daughter was born nine weeks early and required two months in intensive care.
Despite the fact that Huculak had approval to travel from her doctor in Canada and bought insurance from Blue Cross prior to her journey, Huculak is now facing a $950,000 medical bill. Blue Cross said she suffered from a pre-existing condition, but she said she merely had a bladder infection that caused bleeding.
"The specialist in Hawaii said that these things just happen. There's nothing that causes them,” she told CTV Saskatoon.
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Blue Cross disagreed and told Huculak in a letter: "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."
Huculak’s specialist at home in Saskatchewan has written to Blue Cross and said that the bladder infection did not lead to Huculak's early labor. But her coverage was still denied.
Huculak said she’s grateful for her daughter’s life and health but isn’t sure what’s next for her family. She’s not sure if they’ll fight Blue Cross, declare bankruptcy or wait and see what happens.
"It makes you sick to your stomach,” Huculak said. "Who can pay a million-dollar medical bill? Who can afford that?”
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She hopes that other travelers will learn from her struggle. "It's a very sad situation to be in, and people need to be aware that insurance companies will deny you if they have anything they can go on," she said.