$1 Million…What Would YOU Do?


Just about everyone has thought about it: What would you do with $1 million?

Now think about this: What would you do if you didn’t have $1 million but were charged that amount?

For Jennifer Huculak and Darren Kimmel of Saskatchewan, Canada, the latter is all too real. It began last year in October when the couple took a vacation to Hawaii. Jennifer, six months pregnant at the time, was cleared by her doctor to make the trip. Just in case of emergencies, the couple purchased travel insurance from Blue Cross. Two days into the vacation, Jennifer’s water broke. She was airlifted to a hospital in Honolulu, where she had to remain on bedrest for six weeks. Thankfully, baby Reese was delivered December 10 after a C-section. Baby Reese is healthy now, but had to spend the first two months of her life in NICU. All good news, and good thing they got that travel insurance…right?

Wrong. Tales of outrageous hospital bills are all too commonplace these days, and this couple was no exception. After returning to Canada with their precious bundle, it was life as usual. Until the day they got the hospital bill for $950,000. The couple was charged $160,000 for Jennifer’s hospital stay, $40,000 for the medical evacuation, and the rest? $750,000 for the baby’s care. Blue Cross sent a letter soon after stating that the family was not actually eligible for coverage because Jennifer had been “treated for high-risk pregnancy in the six months prior to departure.” Jennifer’s doctor sent a reply, telling the company she was not a high-risk pregnancy, she had been treated for an unrelated bladder infection.

The couple tried to explain to the company that their broker had not explained anything about a pre-existing condition provision, and that there was actually not a pre-existing condition at all, citing references from her doctors in both Canada and the U.S. that the bladder infection had nothing to do with her premature labor.

Blue Cross still refused to work with them. A statement from Blue Cross read: “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 on the basis that her medical emergency is excluded from coverage under the terms of her pre-existing condition provision, her baby is also not eligible for coverage,” adding that her policy had expired November 9, 2013.

Though having a baby should be one of a couple’s most exciting life events, for this couple, it brings mixed feelings.

“It makes you sick to your stomach. Who can pay a million-dollar medical bill? Who can afford that?”

Jennifer told local news reporters.

The Saskatchewan government is paying $20,000 of the bill to help this family out, but the couple says they will still have to file for bankruptcy because they can’t pay the entire bill.

Though many have probably been screwed over by outrageous medical bills (like the stroke patients that have been harassed and stressed by debt collectors over a hospital bill to the point of having ANOTHER stroke) and reluctance of insurance companies to cover the expenses, it’s sad to see such a happy event be darkened by such an ordeal.