Couple overwhelmed by support in health insurance fight
A Humboldt couple says public response to the story of their almost $1 million U.S. hospital bill following the birth of the daughter has been overwhelming.
Darren Kimmel and Jennifer Huculak told their story to a national audience during a Wednesday morning appearance on CTV’s Canada AM.
“The support has been overwhelming, that people you don’t know have been phoning and wanting to donate,” Kimmel said. “It is something we never expected. When we did this story we didn’t expect it to go through social media like it has.”
The couple’s story first aired Monday on CTV Saskatoon and since then they have received messages of support on social media and phone calls from across the country by people who wanted to show their support.
“It is uplifting to know that somebody else actually cares. Before it got out in the media it seemed like you were fighting a two-person fight to get people’s support and to hear the good comments helps,” Kimmel told Canada AM.
Huculak was six months pregnant when she flew to Hawaii for a holiday with her husband in October 2013. Before her trip, she bought Blue Cross insurance and received approval from her doctor.
But two days into her trip, Huculak's water broke and she spent the next six weeks on bed rest in a Hawaiian hospital. Her daughter Reece was born nine weeks early and spent two months in intensive care.
While she's grateful that her 11-month-old daughter is now healthy, Huculak and her husband were left with a $950,000 medical bill.
Saskatchewan Blue Cross is refusing to pay any of the amount, arguing that Huculak had a pre-existing condition.
In a letter to Huculak, the company noted the following: "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 incurred are not eligible under the terms of your policy."
But Huculak says she did not have a high-risk pregnancy, only bladder infection which led to bleeding and had cleared up before the trip. Her specialist at home in Saskatchewan has written to Blue Cross, saying that the bladder infection did not lead to Huculak's early labour. But her coverage was still denied.
“The doctor said the ultrasound showed four days before I flew down there it was a stable pregnancy that he saw no reason not for me not to go,” she told Canada AM.
“I think we did our due diligence,” Kimmel added. “We answered the questions we were asked when we purchased the policy. We answered them honestly. We tried to enjoy a holiday and we headed down there and had a very bad misfortune.
“I don’t think events leading up to leaving I don’t think we did anything wrong and that’s why the denial was so surprising. We purchased insurance for these reasons for when accidents happen and then when they get denied it causes quite a problem. We gladly paid our premiums, they should maybe gladly pay the bill.”
Social media has been abuzz with offers to contribute to the couple’s cause or suggestions of crowdfunding, but the couple says that not something they are seeking. They continue to believe Blue Cross was wrong to deny the claim and want the company to pay the bill.
The size of bill and the consideration of filing bankruptcy weighs on the couple, but while they hope for a resolution they are focusing on raising their family.
“It is something you think about every day, it really is. It never leaves your mind, as much as you try to put it out of your mind that may it will just go away it’s always going to be there and it is alwys something that has to be dealt with,” Kimmel said.
“Very few people in the world can come up with that kind of cash to pay that bill. We can’t put our life on hold to do it. We still have to live and work and raise out family and that stuff is more important than looking after the bill right now.”