Politics & Current Events

Australian family to pay $1m after baby born in Florida hospital

This is what i hate about travel insurance - there are SO many things that can disqualify you for care. You will note at the bottom of the story, the same thing happened to an Australian family in a Canadian hospital too - I don't think the health care system in the US is faulty for this, I think that travel insurance is really sucky when it excludes just about everything. 

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1160021--australian-family-expects-to-pay-1-million-after-baby-born-in-florida?bn=1

Australian family expects to pay $1 million after baby born in FloridaPublished On Wed Apr 11 2012EmailPrintShare on facebookShare on twitterShare on diggShare on deliciousRssArticleSonja Broom holds baby Gracee, who was born premature in a Florida hospital in February while Broom, an Australian, was on vacation. Broom says her family owes more than $1 million in medical fees for Gracee's care.Sonja Broom holds baby Gracee, who was born premature in a Florida hospital in February while Broom, an Australian, was on vacation. Broom says her family owes more than $1 million in medical fees for Gracee's care.SPECIAL TO THE STARJosh TapperStaff ReporterA two-week family vacation across the United States has turned into a cripplingly expensive hospital stay for an Australian woman after a ?freak? premature birth.Sonja Broom, 36, expects to pay more than $1 million in fees to a Florida hospital after giving birth to her daughter, Gracee, just 24 1/2 weeks into the pregnancy.Gracee has spent nearly two months in neonatal care at the Florida Hospital for Children in Orlando, racking up an enormous medical bill as Broom tries to raise money to pay the hospital and fly back to her Brisbane home.?I hate the fact that I can?t go home and control the situation,? she told the Starfrom Orlando. ?It?s a freak thing that happened. This baby shouldn?t be here, the baby should be inside me; it should be developing and doing what an unborn child should be doing.?Hospital staff told Broom that Gracee may require another six weeks, at least, in neonatal care.Broom, her parents and husband Brett, a painter, landed in San Francisco on Jan. 29, before jetting to Orlando a few days later. Her water broke halfway into a four-day Bahamas cruise the family boarded on Feb. 10 from Cape Canaveral.Two days later, Gracee was born, weighing about 1 pound 7 ounces.With Broom taken to hospital, her parents and Brett returned to Brisbane to take care of her two sons, Jack, 3, and William, 22 months.The Brooms? insurance plan will not pay for hospital care because the pregnancy was considered a ?pre-existing? condition. While Broom said she and Brett understand the fine print, they?re still challenging the claim.?We were told (by hospital staff) that there was an infection in my uterus . . . which caused pre-term labour,? she said. ?The infection was not pre-existing.?Broom said hospital staff told her the final hospital bill could exceed $1 million.The family has already paid for Broom?s medical needs, which reached $10,000 ? even with a 75 per cent discount from the hospital.Florida Hospital could not confirm those totals on Wednesday.The Brooms have entered a Medicaid application for Gracee, an American citizen, and have taken to Facebook to raise money.Meanwhile, stranded nearly 15,000 kilometres from home, logging 12-hour days crib-side and sleeping at a nearby Ronald McDonald House, Broom said she is reaching her wit?s end.But she wouldn?t be anywhere else.?It?s a roller-coaster at the moment; I?ve got no one here to support me,? she said. ?I want to see (Gracee) grow and get out of here quickly.?The Brooms are not the first Australians in recent months to face sky-high hospital fees after having a baby prematurely in North America.A Sydney-area couple, Rachel Evans and John Kan, were also hit with a nearly $1 million bill after Evans gave birth three months early at the B.C. Women?s Hospital, while vacationing in Vancouver last August.

In March, Evans told the Star the couple will pay the hospital $300 per month for the rest of their lives to cover the costs. 

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Re: Australian family to pay $1m after baby born in Florida hospital

  • IT is probably different with nationalized medicine, but I traveled abroad during my first 2 pregnancies. I called my insurance company before I left and they said they'd cover anything abroad at the out of network rate. At the time we had awesome insurance and DH's employer may have had international coverage just because of the amount he traveled outside of the country for work.
  • image 3.27.04_Helper:
    IT is probably different with nationalized medicine, but I traveled abroad during my first 2 pregnancies. I called my insurance company before I left and they said they'd cover anything abroad at the out of network rate. At the time we had awesome insurance and DH's employer may have had international coverage just because of the amount he traveled outside of the country for work.

    Yeah, this is how  mine works as well (mine is not international coverage). 

    image, image

  • I'm going to be devil's advocate and ask...Is it really a smart idea to travel that far when pregnant given her "advanced age?" Anything over 35 is considered high risk, right? I don't know if I would feel comfortable traveling somewhere pregnant where i might not be covered should medical problems occur. Would you all really consider it "out of the blue" if you were pregnant at 36 and had preterm labor on a really long trip? Don't doctors warn about deep vein thrombosis on really long trips especially when pregnant? I'm asking honestly, no snark.

    At any rate, having a preemie is so challenging & scary. I hope the baby is doing well. 

    image
  • I have no comment and wish the family well but that's a freaking long way to go for a 4 day Bahamas cruise.

    ETA: reading comprehension fail...i saw it was a 2 week US vacation.  I read too fast and thought they flew from Australia to San Fran to Orlando just for a 4 day cruise

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  • image karinothing:

    image 3.27.04_Helper:
    IT is probably different with nationalized medicine, but I traveled abroad during my first 2 pregnancies. I called my insurance company before I left and they said they'd cover anything abroad at the out of network rate. At the time we had awesome insurance and DH's employer may have had international coverage just because of the amount he traveled outside of the country for work.

    Yeah, this is how  mine works as well (mine is not international coverage). 

    This is how all my employer-based plans have been, as well.


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  • I feel bad for the family as they are obviously dealing with a lot at the moment. As a pregnant Aussie though, I have to say that this couple must have known the gamble they were taking. Travel insurance policies are perfectly clear about not covering pregnancy, it's not some detail hidden in the fine print. Furthermore it is the child that is making the bill close to $1 million. There was no travel insurance policy for the child (nor could there be). 
  • We get some coverage out of the country with our insurance, I also always buy travel insurance so that there's coverage if we have to be medevaced out of somewhere.  I figure that's the best I can do to cover us while still traveling. 

    I've never worried about the pregnancy coverage but am not surprised the policies exclude it,  the policies are pretty clear about pre-existing conditions not being covered.

    I am the 39%.
  • While I feel terrible that the baby is facing so many problems, as far as the money is concerned, this family took a gamble and they lost.

    Also, if their Medicaid application is accepted, they won't end up owing anything, right?

  • I know of people that needed emergency healthcare (granted, not this much) in the US who were from Italy.  They just put down my H's address and when it came time to pay they were already out of the country.  Apparently my H told the hospital to bill the government of Italy. 

    My point - just because you have a bill, doesn't mean you have to pay it. Generally I'm against that, but in a case like this, if I were that woman, that's probably what I would do.

  • emisiemisi member
    image LittleMoxie:

    I know of people that needed emergency healthcare (granted, not this much) in the US who were from Italy.  They just put down my H's address and when it came time to pay they were already out of the country.  Apparently my H told the hospital to bill the government of Italy. 

    My point - just because you have a bill, doesn't mean you have to pay it. Generally I'm against that, but in a case like this, if I were that woman, that's probably what I would do.

    Yeah, this is probably what's going to happen.  They'll leave the country as soon as the baby is well enough, and that bill will never get paid.  Probably what the travel insurance is banking on, as well. 

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  • image emisi:
    image LittleMoxie:

    I know of people that needed emergency healthcare (granted, not this much) in the US who were from Italy.  They just put down my H's address and when it came time to pay they were already out of the country.  Apparently my H told the hospital to bill the government of Italy. 

    My point - just because you have a bill, doesn't mean you have to pay it. Generally I'm against that, but in a case like this, if I were that woman, that's probably what I would do.

    Yeah, this is probably what's going to happen.  They'll leave the country as soon as the baby is well enough, and that bill will never get paid.  Probably what the travel insurance is banking on, as well. 

    I'd wager that her passport has been flagged and she would not be able to leave the country.  

    I'm actually surprised it's only $1 mil, with A spending 5 days in NICU our insurance was billed $125K

  • image Big T (aka Mr.P):
    image emisi:
    image LittleMoxie:

    I know of people that needed emergency healthcare (granted, not this much) in the US who were from Italy.  They just put down my H's address and when it came time to pay they were already out of the country.  Apparently my H told the hospital to bill the government of Italy. 

    My point - just because you have a bill, doesn't mean you have to pay it. Generally I'm against that, but in a case like this, if I were that woman, that's probably what I would do.

    Yeah, this is probably what's going to happen.  They'll leave the country as soon as the baby is well enough, and that bill will never get paid.  Probably what the travel insurance is banking on, as well. 

    I'd wager that her passport has been flagged and she would not be able to leave the country.  

    I'm actually surprised it's only $1 mil, with A spending 5 days in NICU our insurance was billed $125K

    Holy crap.  Unless I'm reading DS' bill incorrectly, he spent a week in NICU and it was about $15k. The stay itself, i guess not counting various treatments, was something like 1k/night. 

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  • image Big T (aka Mr.P):

    I'd wager that her passport has been flagged and she would not be able to leave the country.  

    Customs and Immigration isn't generally in the business of debt collection.

    The bill will likely get paid by Medicaid.

    I am the 39%.
  • image Big T (aka Mr.P):

    I'd wager that her passport has been flagged and she would not be able to leave the country.  

    The baby has been in the NICU for nearly 2 months now.  Australian visitors can stay in the U.S. for 3 months on a "tourist visa".

    They're going to force the woman to violate immigration laws via a pseudo-debtors prison?  I don't think so. 

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  • image CatLawdy&:
    image Big T (aka Mr.P):

    I'd wager that her passport has been flagged and she would not be able to leave the country.  

    Customs and Immigration isn't generally in the business of debt collection.

    The bill will likely get paid by Medicaid.

    And you dont go through customs or immigration when exiting the US so no one would know that she had left.  

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  • image Big T (aka Mr.P):

    I'd wager that her passport has been flagged and she would not be able to leave the country.  

    Doubtful.  

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  • image wise_rita:
    image Big T (aka Mr.P):

    I'd wager that her passport has been flagged and she would not be able to leave the country.  

    The baby has been in the NICU for nearly 2 months now.  Australian visitors can stay in the U.S. for 3 months on a "tourist visa".

    They're going to force the woman to violate immigration laws via a pseudo-debtors prison?  I don't think so. 

    Will the baby even be healthy enough to fly to Australia at 3 months?  Medical bills aside, even if she's actually been discharged I would think she'd still be too medically fragile to fly halfway around the world.   So where does that leave mom, having to fly home alone because her visa's expired, or staying here illegally?  Could she get an extension?

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  •  If they ever even discover that her "visa" expired (in quotes because she's probably in the U.S. as part of the visa waiver program, hence the 3 month stay instead of the usual 6), the liklier consequence is that she would be ineligible for future visa waiver travel.  That's IF it gets flagged for immigration.  In that case, she'd just apply for a tourist visa for future U.S. travel.  Usually you can't extend in the U.S. when you're on visa waiver but given the medical circumstances, I'm sure some kind of exception exists (not that it's easy to get, necessarily).

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  • image Mabillon:

     If they ever even discover that her "visa" expired (in quotes because she's probably in the U.S. as part of the visa waiver program, hence the 3 month stay instead of the usual 6), the liklier consequence is that she would be ineligible for future visa waiver travel.  That's IF it gets flagged for immigration.  In that case, she'd just apply for a tourist visa for future U.S. travel.  Usually you can't extend in the U.S. when you're on visa waiver but given the medical circumstances, I'm sure some kind of exception exists (not that it's easy to get, necessarily).

    Yeah, he likelihood of anyone noticing that they've overstayed the visa waiver period is pretty negligible. It's not like they are applying for jobs and drivers licenses and mortgages. And even if they were their irregular status wouldn't be reported to CIS, they'd probably just be denied those thing for which they were ineligible. 

    I will never understand why the US doesn't enact exit immigration procedures, but that's another story.  

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  • image mxolisi:
    image Mabillon:

     If they ever even discover that her "visa" expired (in quotes because she's probably in the U.S. as part of the visa waiver program, hence the 3 month stay instead of the usual 6), the liklier consequence is that she would be ineligible for future visa waiver travel.  That's IF it gets flagged for immigration.  In that case, she'd just apply for a tourist visa for future U.S. travel.  Usually you can't extend in the U.S. when you're on visa waiver but given the medical circumstances, I'm sure some kind of exception exists (not that it's easy to get, necessarily).

    Yeah, he likelihood of anyone noticing that they've overstayed the visa waiver period is pretty negligible. It's not like they are applying for jobs and drivers licenses and mortgages. And even if they were their irregular status wouldn't be reported to CIS, they'd probably just be denied those thing for which they were ineligible. 

    I will never understand why the US doesn't enact exit immigration procedures, but that's another story.  

    Ditto.  The one thing that could add value over security theater and we just sit on our hands...

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  • image casmgn:

    While I feel terrible that the baby is facing so many problems, as far as the money is concerned, this family took a gamble and they lost.

    Also, if their Medicaid application is accepted, they won't end up owing anything, right?

    I'm pretty sure this is the case wrt Medicaid. It's backdated to the time you qualify, which for this baby would have been the instant she was born. I can't imagine what part of her care wouldn't be covered. There *might* be some co-pays but I doubt it.



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  • A couple thoughts.

    1.  The baby's NICU stay will be covered by Medicaid.  That shouldn't cost them much OOP (this depends on the birthweight of the baby but I'm guessing the baby was less than 2lbs, 2oz).  I'm guessing she was helicoptered off the cruise ship ($$$) and spent some time in a high risk maternity ward ($$$) so both those would be pricey but still not $1m.

    2.  As for traveling abroad at AMA - I asked, was told it was fine before 28 weeks. Landed back in the US at 23w 2d and got very lucky to not have been stuck abroad/had a micro-preemie in another country.  I had a perfectly healthy pregnancy up until that point and I don't know if my doctors advice was due to AMA or just her general advice.

    3.  As for the baby being able to travel home by plane if discharged at 3 months old - it depends but I'd be surprised.  The picture above shows the baby on a vent so it probably has lung issues.  I asked about taking my son's pulmonologist about flying and they'd want to do a special test on him to test his oxygenation while creating an environment similar to air travel.  

    ETA:  I think the $1m figure is a very common expectation hospitals put out there for babies born this early.  It was the number we were told to expect for our son and he was born two weeks later than this baby.  Our private insurance was billed $380k by the hospital (that's a four month stay at two different NICU and a surgery - I was shocked it was this low and have a bad feeling something else is lurking).  Our OOP costs are $3k but we have yet to receive a bill for it.

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  • image bbbx3:
    I feel bad for the family as they are obviously dealing with a lot at the moment. As a pregnant Aussie though, I have to say that this couple must have known the gamble they were taking. Travel insurance policies are perfectly clear about not covering pregnancy, it's not some detail hidden in the fine print. Furthermore it is the child that is making the bill close to $1 million. There was no travel insurance policy for the child (nor could there be). 

     

    This makes things very interesting

     

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  • I have some sympathy, but not much.

    Everyone knows you'll be bankrupted if you need to go to a hospital in America. You don't say "oh, I'm fine, I'm only pregnant, I'm sure they'll cover me". You check that pregnancy costs are covered. Before you go bungee jumping you make sure you're covered. EVERYONE knows this, EVERYONE has heard the story of a cousin's friend husband who had an appendix burst or chest pain and ended up with $30,000 in bills.

  • image 3.27.04_Helper:
    IT is probably different with nationalized medicine, but I traveled abroad during my first 2 pregnancies. I called my insurance company before I left and they said they'd cover anything abroad at the out of network rate. At the time we had awesome insurance and DH's employer may have had international coverage just because of the amount he traveled outside of the country for work.

    Possibly ironically, you might not have needed it, though. I know someone who developed a blood clot on the way to Germany and had everything paid for by the German medical system. Obviouisly, given the Canadian example, this isn't the case for all countries with universal health care.

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  • image 3.27.04_Helper:
    IT is probably different with nationalized medicine, but I traveled abroad during my first 2 pregnancies. I called my insurance company before I left and they said they'd cover anything abroad at the out of network rate. At the time we had awesome insurance and DH's employer may have had international coverage just because of the amount he traveled outside of the country for work.

    There are reciprocal agreements with some countries, like the UK. But given the US doesn't have a health care system, how could there be a reciprocal arrangement? Also, the cost differential would be too high even if there were a national health system in the US.

  • image MeredithE:

    image bbbx3:
    I feel bad for the family as they are obviously dealing with a lot at the moment. As a pregnant Aussie though, I have to say that this couple must have known the gamble they were taking. Travel insurance policies are perfectly clear about not covering pregnancy, it's not some detail hidden in the fine print. Furthermore it is the child that is making the bill close to $1 million. There was no travel insurance policy for the child (nor could there be). 

     

    This makes things very interesting

     

    Mer, please. You know I'm hoping that Obama sends a bill to Julia Gilliard with a copy of Michelle's side-eye photo and "you better pay this if you want to remain friends" scrawled at the bottom. 

  • image Mabillon:
    image mxolisi:
    image Mabillon:

     If they ever even discover that her "visa" expired (in quotes because she's probably in the U.S. as part of the visa waiver program, hence the 3 month stay instead of the usual 6), the liklier consequence is that she would be ineligible for future visa waiver travel.  That's IF it gets flagged for immigration.  In that case, she'd just apply for a tourist visa for future U.S. travel.  Usually you can't extend in the U.S. when you're on visa waiver but given the medical circumstances, I'm sure some kind of exception exists (not that it's easy to get, necessarily).

    Yeah, he likelihood of anyone noticing that they've overstayed the visa waiver period is pretty negligible. It's not like they are applying for jobs and drivers licenses and mortgages. And even if they were their irregular status wouldn't be reported to CIS, they'd probably just be denied those thing for which they were ineligible. 

    I will never understand why the US doesn't enact exit immigration procedures, but that's another story.  

    Ditto.  The one thing that could add value over security theater and we just sit on our hands...

    Doesn't it? I don't know how it works for people on the visa waiver program but when I leave the US I surrender my I-94 card which indicates to US immigration that I have left the country.  

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  • I read a medical article recently that said pregnany women in AUstralia in som earead are mpre often to deliver on a gurney in a hallway than in a birthing room due to over crowding and an overworked "free" medical system. I think shes pretty lucky that baby was born here. And since it is a us citizen the baby will qualify for medicaid under current rules most likely

     

    Let me clarify: Obviously it would have been better for the baby to have been born full term iin a hallway in Australia than in the best possible circumstances premature in the us. Just wanted to calrify I wasnt saying better born any time in us than elsewhere

  • This happened to an Australian couple visiting Canada as well and they had to agree to pay $300 per month for the rest of their lives to the Canadian govt.

     

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