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Why a Canadian Couple on Dream Vacation in U.S. Was Charged $1M When Their Baby Came Early

"It makes you sick to your stomach."

A Canadian couple's baby was born premature while they were on the vacation in the U.S. They expected their insurance to cover the nearly $1 million medical bill but the company is refusing due to a pre-existing condition, which the mother argues she didn't have. (Image source: CTV News)

A Canadian woman and her husband were on vacation in Hawaii a year ago, taking what was supposed to be a dream "babymoon" before their first child was set to join them three months later — except the baby had other plans.

At just six months pregnant Jennifer Huculak-Kimmel's water broke, forcing her into several weeks of bedrest in a U.S. hospital and a premature delivery nine weeks before her due date, according to CTV News. She and her husband are now left confounded by a nearly $1 million medical bill, because their insurance said she had a preexisting condition that disqualifies her from coverage in this case.

A Canadian couple's baby was born premature while they were on the vacation in the U.S. They expected their insurance to cover the nearly $1 million medical bill but the company is refusing due to a pre-existing condition, which the mother argues she didn't have. (Image source: CTV News) A Canadian couple's baby was born premature while they were on the vacation in the U.S. They expected their insurance to cover the nearly $1 million medical bill but the company is refusing due to a preexisting condition, which the mother argues she didn't have. (Image source: CTV News)

"Ms. Huculak was diagnosed and treated for a high-risk pregnancy in the six months prior to departure," Blue Cross insurance wrote in  a letter to the mother, according to CTV News. "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."

The news station noted that Huculak-Kimmel was cleared to travel by her doctor before her trip. She also told CBC that an insurance representative cleared her travel because it was before she was 36 weeks pregnant.

As for her preexisting condition, Huculak-Kimmel argued that her physician did not consider her as a high-risk pregnancy. She was treated for a bladder infection that resulted in bleeding, but she said that shouldn't constitute a high risk or preexisting condition.

"It makes you sick to your stomach," she told CTV News. "Who can pay a million-dollar medical bill? Who can afford that?"

The couple's baby is healthy now but the medical bill continues to loom over their heads.  (Image source: CTV News) The couple's baby is healthy now but the medical bill continues to loom over their heads. (Image source: CTV News)

At this point, the couple is deciding if they should fight the $950,000 bill or declare bankruptcy, CTV News reported.

"It's a very sad situation to be in and people need to be aware that insurance companies will deny you if they have anything they can go on," Huculak-Kimmel told CTV.

The now 11-month-old is healthy, and Huculak-Kimmel told CBC she and her husband are "grateful every day for the tremendous hospital care that the baby and I both received.

Watch CTV News' report about the couple's situation on its website.

This story has been updated to correct that Huculak-Kimmel was six months pregnant, not six weeks pregnant as first reported. 

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