A St. John's couple was shocked when they were left with bills to cover the cost for the birth of their first child because the mother's doesn't have Canadian residency.
Matthew LeRiche's wife Aduei recently gave birth to a healthy baby boy at the Health Sciences Centre, but because she's from South Sudan originally, with U.S. citizenship, the cost of delivering the baby won't be covered by MCP — the province's health plan.
LeRiche, born and raised in St. John's, said while the couple realized there would be costs for Aduei to give birth here, they were shocked when they got a bill for their Canadian-born son's hospital stay.
Total costs more than $7K
According to LeRiche, the cost for the baby to spend one night in hospital was roughly $1,000, and more than $6,000 for his wife's medical bills.
'If you flip these cases, for example if Aduei were Canadian and I were American, it wouldn't be an issue.' - Matthew LeRiche
Aduei LeRiche holds American citizenship, but said the family chose to deal with medical bills totalling in the thousands rather than be forced apart for the birth of their first child.
"Matthew is here, he's from here, and he was teaching at the university … so in order for me to go back to the U.S. and have the baby there where I have a family and a great network and support, it would mean that he would have to miss the birth of our child because he would have to be teaching and tending to his job," she said.
"It's a serious family time, and it makes sense for all of us to be there and to witness that. So the choice was to go to the U.S. to do it alone, and he wouldn't be part of it because he would be here, or face the financial charges that we are being asked to pay and do it here."
LeRiche said his son is Canadian born, with a Canadian father, and once he has his MCP card he won't be paying the hospital fees he feels are unjust.
"I just filled out the vital statistics and the forms for your benefits and that sort of thing, [and] there's absolutely nowhere there to do it through the father's name," he said.
"There's only one spot where the father's name really gets included so everything's done in the process from the mother, so that's a particular problem, as well. I mean, if you flip these cases, for example if Aduei were Canadian and I were American, it wouldn't be an issue."
He added that this was something the couple hadn't anticipated when they returned to Canada after time abroad.
"I had to convince Aduei of our wonderful universal health care system, and to me it was a surprise — you don't think about these things growing up here," he said.
A similar tale out of CBC News in British Columbia saw a couple, the father Canadian and the mother from Peru, left with up to $20,000 in medical bills because the wife and mother-to-be is still waiting on her residency application to go through.