Couple face $1 million medical bill and bankruptcy after babymoon birth

Reece's early birth in another country has made her a million dollar baby.
Reece's early birth in another country has made her a million dollar baby. Photo: Mashable

Just call her the million-dollar baby.

A Canadian couple were slammed with a US$950,000 (AU$1,104,824) medical bill in March after their daughter was prematurely born during a trip to the United States last year, and the costs won't be covered by insurance, according to multiple reports.

Darren Kimmel and Jennifer Huculak were vacationing in Hawaii last October when Huculak's water broke two days into their trip. She spent six weeks on bed rest in a Hawaiian hospital, then delivered their baby, Reece, on December 10, 2013.

Born nine weeks early, Reece was placed in intensive care for two months.

The Saskatchewan couple had purchased travel insurance from Blue Cross before their trip, and said they received assurances from their broker that "we were covered," Huculak told The Toronto Star. And despite a bladder infection that caused bleeding several months earlier, the family's doctor gave Huculak the green light to travel.

But Blue Cross denied payment.

"We are unable to provide coverage for any medical expenses incurred for Ms Huculak's baby," a Blue Cross representative wrote in a December 2013 letter to Honolulu-based Kapi'olani Medical Center, where Huculak was treated. "As Ms Huculak's emergency medical claim has been denied 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."

The insurance company added that Huculak's policy expired on November 9, 2013 - by the time Huckulak was already in hospital. 

Huculak claimed that the couple's insurance broker didn't ask them about any pre-existing conditions, and said her doctors in Saskatchewan and Hawaii both agreed that the bladder infection was unrelated to her premature labour, according to the Star.


However, in a statement to CTV News, Blue Cross said of the 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."

The bulk of the $950,000 bill went to care for the couple's daughter, while US$160,000 was for Huculak's hospital stay and US$40,000 was for a medical evacuation.

The Saskatchewan government is paying US$20,000 to help cover part of the costs, and since going public with their story, Huculak and Kimmel have been receiving offers of donations from strangers.


However, the couple still plan to file for bankruptcy, as they can't afford to pay the entire bill.

Huculak told CBC News that she tried her best to leave the US, but ultimately wasn't able to return to Canada for Reece's birth.

"We looked at all avenues to trying to get medevac [air ambulance] home," she said. "One medevac company would not fly me in my condition, and the other one would only do it with a surgical team on board and still recommended me not [to] travel."

Canada has a publicly funded universal health care system, and all eligible residents are guaranteed access to medical services. The United States has a more privately oriented health care system, which means citizens must pay for more of the costs of treatment up front.

This post first appeared on Mashable.