Mom Billed $1 Million After Delivering Baby on Vacation in Hawaii

cashWe all know that raising a child in America is a pricey undertaking. It costs nearly $300,000 to care for a child until age 18, according to the US Department of Agriculture. But did you know it costs more than that to give birth to one? That's the expensive lesson a Canadian couple learned after unexpectedly going into labor while on vacation in Hawaii and getting a million-dollar hospital bill.

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Jennifer Huculak was six months pregnant when her water broke while visiting the island in October 2013. She was hospitalized for weeks before daughter Reese was born prematurely and then placed in the neonatal intensive care unit for another two months.

The couple, from Saskatchewan, thought the medical bills were covered by their Blue Cross insurance plan. Wrong! The bill amounted to $950,000. So what in the world cost that much? Huculak's hospital stay was $160,000; $40,000 for a medical evacuation; and the rest went to her daughter's care. Saskatchewan Health paid $20,000 and the US covered the $12,000 it cost for Reese's delivery. The rest, however, lies heavily on the shoulders of these parents. That's $918,000 they just don't have.

Blue Cross denied their claim, saying the mother has a pre-existing condition. That explanation has the couple scratching their heads. Huculak said that she had a bladder infection and "hemorrhaged a bit" during her fourth month, but that her doctor cleared her for travel.

It's a cautionary tale for so many of us who still travel when pregnant. It can be a risk no matter what -- though it usually is fine up until after 32 weeks. I feel for this couple, I really do. That is debt most people would never be able to crawl from out of. However, the hospital provided life-saving and presumably excellent care. As such, they should be paid for it. Hopefully the Huculaks can fight their insurance company and get help with this outrageously high bill. On the bright side, little Reese is happy and healthy.

Do you think this couple should have to pay this bill?

 

Image © Matthias Kulka/Corbis

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