Saskatchewan couple considering bankruptcy after $1M medical bill
Marlene Leung, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, November 19, 2014 9:05AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 19, 2014 6:56PM EST
A Saskatchewan couple is considering filing for bankruptcy after being hit with a medical bill of nearly $1 million, incurred after their daughter was prematurely born during a trip to the U.S. last year.
Darren Kimmel and Jennifer Huculak were hit with a bill of $950,000 after Huculak gave birth to their daughter Reece last year in Hawaii.
The two flew to Hawaii for a holiday in October 2013 when Huculak was six months pregnant. Before they flew out, Huculak was cleared to travel and the couple purchased Blue Cross Insurance.
Two days into the trip, Huculak's water broke and she spent the next six weeks on bed rest in a Hawaiian hospital. Her daughter was born nine weeks early and spent two months in intensive care.
Despite having purchased medical insurance before their trip, provider Blue Cross has denied their claim, arguing that Huculak had a pre-existing condition and was considered a high-risk pregnancy.
But Huculak says she was never considered "high-risk," although she did have a bladder infection that led to some bleeding.
"I was never told by any doctor that I was a high-risk pregnancy," she told CTV's Canada AM in an interview on Wednesday morning. "I had a bladder infection at four months that caused some hemorrhaging, but I was treated and everything was cleared up."
In a statement to CTV Saskatoon, Blue Cross said the following about the couple's case: "We review each claim carefully and are confident that our decision to decline this claim was done in a considered manner based on the contract terms, the situation which resulted in this emergency medical claim, and a review of recent medical history."
In a Dec. 16, 2013 letter to the Hawaiian medical centre, Saskatchewan Blue Cross also stated that the baby was not eligible for coverage, and that Huculak’s travel policy had expired on Nov. 9 -- while she was in hospital.
The province is kicking in about $20,000 towards the massive bill. But since going public with the story, Kimmel and Huculak says they've been "overwhelmed" by offers of donations – many coming from complete strangers.
"It's absolutely overwhelming that people you don't know have been phoning and wanting to donate stuff," Kimmel said. "It's something we never expected."
But Huculak says that they're not looking for private donations.
"At this point, we're not really accepting anything from private people, that's not what we're looking for. We didn't do this for that reason," she told CTV Saskatoon Tuesday.
For now, they are just trying to figure out what to do about the bill.
"We're probably leaning towards bankruptcy, I suppose, unless we can figure out another way," Kimmel said.
'We did our due diligence'
Kimmel and Huculak said that when they purchased their insurance they spoke with a Blue Cross representative who assured them that they would be covered.
Kimmel said looking back, there's nothing they could have done to have further protected themselves.
"I think we did our due diligence. We answered the questions that we were asked when we purchased the policy; we answered them honestly," he said. "We purchase insurance for these reasons, for when accidents happen. And then when they get denied it causes quite a problem."