In the news: Another high profile case of a Canadian getting a huge bill in the States and not being covered.
They were on vacation and were caught off guard with a baby that came 9 weeks early.
They had proper travel insurance, but it Blue Cross, an American insurance company, decided that they’re not covered due to preexisting conditions.
Unfortunately, this sort of thing happens all the time.
I had my own expensive lesson in 2001 when I moved down for a new job, and had a medical emergency in the short time gap before my employer health insurance took effect.
Citizens of (every country except the United States) may be shocked to realize that a huge number of Americans must pay for emergency care out of pocket, bankrupting about 2 million people per year.
Not realizing the scale of the costs involved, and thinking that my Canadian government coverage applied (it did, but only for a tiny fraction) I went to the hospital and was treated.
I received random bills for months afterwards, thinking each time that would be the last. Each single item and service, down to OTC painkillers like Tylenol, were billed and invoiced separately from different providers.
All said and done, my 25-year-old just-out-of-college self learned a very difficult $5,000 lesson about the worst health care system in the civilized world.
Canadians: Take extra care to make sure you are very well insured before you step foot into the US – even if it’s just for a connecting flight.
You never know what might happen…
Note: I’ve written previously about private healthcare, and the US healthcare system (twice, actually).