Jennifer Huculak-Kimmel billed $950K US after giving birth in U.S.

Saskatchewan mother Jennifer Huculak-Kimmel gave birth nine weeks early while on holiday in Hawaii, and it's going to cost her nearly $1 million US.

Humboldt, Sask., resident gave birth 9 weeks early while vacationing in Hawaii

Canadian billed $950K US for Hawaii birth

9 years ago
Duration 2:04
Featured VideoJennifer Huculak-Kimmel of Humboldt, Sask., gave birth 9 weeks early while on vacation. Insurance declined due to a pre-existing condition

A warm weather holiday has turned into a hot mess for a Saskatchewan couple.

Jennifer Huculak-Kimmel gave birth nine weeks early while on holiday in Hawaii in November 2013. Her baby daughter had to be hospitalized.

"My water broke two days into our holiday," Huculak-Kimmel said. "I spent six weeks on bed rest and then baby Reece was delivered by emergency C-section on December 10th."

Reece had to stay in the hospital for just over two months. Huculak-Kimmel thought that her insurance would cover the almost $1 million US bill.

In the end, Blue Cross denied payment. In a letter to the family, a Blue Cross worker wrote, "We are unable to provide coverage for any medical expenses incurred for Ms. Huculak's baby" and "please note that Ms. Huculak's travel policy expired on Nov. 9, 2013."

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The parents are now unsure what they'll do next.

"Blue Cross said that because I had a bladder infection at four months and hemorrhaged because of that, that they would not cover the pregnancy," she said. "We thought we had done everything right. We thought we had covered all avenues and we thought we were covered. We thought we were safe to go."

​Huculak-Kimmel said she tried everything possible to get back to Canada.

"We looked at all avenues to trying to get medevac [an 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 travel."

Huculak-Kimmel said she met with her own doctor, and Blue Cross, before the trip.

Expert opinion

Jennifer Huculak-Kimmel gave birth to baby Reece nine weeks early, while on vacation in Hawaii. Her hospital bill of nearly $1 million is not covered by her Blue Cross insurance. (David Shield/CBC)
Steven Lewis, a health policy analyst in Saskatoon, says he doesn't have all the facts in the case, but if Huculak-Kimmel checked in with her doctor days before she left on the trip, and he gave her a clean bill of health, then she should have been covered by insurance.

"Well, I don't think we can be our own doctors," Lewis said. "Either we do, or we don't have a pre-existing condition. And we're not likely to know about them unless we've been told by our doctors that we have them."

Lewis said he doesn't often hear about cases like this, especially ones involving a medical bill that reaches almost $1 million.

He hopes the situation can be mediated.

"One would hope there would be an appeal mechanism," he said, "so the family and the company would sit down and discuss this, and at least agree what the facts are, before having to go to court."