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Was this a USA problem

by Steven Haninger / January 30, 2012 7:45 PM PST
Skier's expenses show US healthcare gap?

While indeed tragic, I don't see where this indicates a problem with US healthcare. If she was covered by her own country's insurance only if the accident occurred there, it seems that plan was anything but universal. Would this mean that a US citizen should be similarly covered outside of country? If so, by what policy? If she was an icon of her sport and a treasure to her country, why wouldn't they cover her in some sort of ambassador category?

I'm sure there are sports accidents all over the world where an athlete is injured requiring medical attention abroad. Surely there is some precedent in how such care is financed.
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RE: it seems that plan was anything but universal.
by JP Bill / January 30, 2012 8:00 PM PST
In reply to: Was this a USA problem

It's for the "Canadian Universe"...when you go to another universe you should get travel insurance.

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If she had been an America
by Diana Forum moderator / January 30, 2012 8:37 PM PST
In reply to: Was this a USA problem

and got hurt in Canada, would her bills have been paid by Canada or would she have needed US insurance that paid when she was out of the country?

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You noted something else that I question
by Steven Haninger / January 30, 2012 9:36 PM PST

I'm unaware of circumstances that should cause her parents or family to go broke. She was 29. I presume she was responsible for her own care. Unless someone signed papers taking responsibility for another person's medical bills, why should they be legally liable? Maybe I'm wrong here but I'd think this would probably become the same sort of write-off that happens with any uninsured person who arrives at the ER of a US hospital.

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Reciprocal Agreements
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / January 30, 2012 8:39 PM PST
In reply to: Was this a USA problem

Many nations have "Reciprocal Agreements" with other nations for health care visitors to those other nations. For example the UK has reciprocal health care agreements with all nations in the EU, most nations in the Commonwealth, and other nations, including, surprisingly, Russia.

Interestingly the UK has no such agreement with the US, except for NATO forces. We travel to the US at our own risk and so are told to arrange our own health care cover whilst visiting.

This is well known so from that point of view I don't see this as a failing of the US health care.

In fact from the article we have to be careful what words we use. The health care she received was probably second to none and the fact that she died seems to be not the fault of the health care she received at all.

The question is about payment of that health care.

I do have to wonder about that. She seems to have had insufficient health care coverage so that was likely her choice. But what I wonder about is the US efforts to get this health care paid by her parents. Why? Was she a dependant of her parents? I doubt it at 29 years old.

If anyone in the US who dies with debt, are parents liable for that debt even though they were adults themselves?

I wonder if there is more to the facts than we are being told, eg the parents agreed to cover the costs of treatment and are now reneging.


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It seems that the health care bills are paid
by Diana Forum moderator / January 30, 2012 8:45 PM PST
In reply to: Reciprocal Agreements

from donations from around the world.

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My thoughts exactly...almost
by Steven Haninger / January 30, 2012 9:40 PM PST
In reply to: Reciprocal Agreements

She's like any uninsured person who lands in ER. She's treated, bills go out to someone but are rejected or unpaid. It's written off.

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sounds more to me like a lack of
by James Denison / January 30, 2012 11:51 PM PST

Canadian Health Care coverage. Obviously when you leave the country you are no longer considered Canadian for health care purposes.

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RE: no longer considered Canadian
by JP Bill / January 31, 2012 12:50 AM PST

Don't you mean

You're no longer considered a patient in Canadian healthcare system? (WHY would you be...you're in another country and not in a Canadian facility, IF they sent you to an American hospital you would be.)

According to the Book of James, I have no idea which verse.

when you leave the country you are no longer considered Canadian for health care purposes.

All Americans without healthcare are not American for healthcare purposes. Without even leaving America.

Canada even sends bills to people for being rescued, when they have done something foolhardy, and got themselves in trouble.

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Does US health insurance
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / January 31, 2012 1:52 AM PST

cover medical costs abroad? Or would US citizens need to check that their policies cover medical costs in other countries?


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Depends on the insurer
by Diana Forum moderator / January 31, 2012 4:36 AM PST

You can get a rider if you're going to be out of the country on some. Some cover overseas. Some don't. I have no idea which do a which don't.


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I think part of the difference
by Roger NC / January 31, 2012 6:50 AM PST

is the difference that most US insurance is totally private and each policy sets it's own restrictions and coverage.

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RE: It's written off.
by JP Bill / January 31, 2012 12:32 AM PST

IF she was an American...she'd/her family would just FERGETABOUTIT, and not bother to pay it.

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But that begs the question
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / January 31, 2012 1:49 AM PST

why the collection to raise the $30,000? And why the mention that her parents could lose their home?

{Not sure of those facts now. When I click the link I don't get that page any more}.


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There must be more to this
by Steven Haninger / January 31, 2012 2:44 AM PST

I'd think that, unless the parents signed papers as responsible or co-responsible for the cost of treatment, I don't see who could go after them. But the only thing I've found that might offer a clue is that she had been put on life support. I could think it was that decision that required someone to ante up for continuing any care and treatment. If the doctors had already determined that she could not be saved but the family insisted on life support, that could have started the meter running.

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Good point.
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / January 31, 2012 2:53 AM PST

And I think that might make the difference.


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RE: Why?
by JP Bill / January 31, 2012 4:47 AM PST
American Hospitals Can Sue Canadians Travelling Without Insurance

Occasionally, even if you have travel insurance, you may find the hospitals coming after you for payment that your insurer did not cover: perhaps you had a pre-existing condition you insurer didn't know about, or you didn't disclose your complete medical history when applying for medically underwritten insurance. This happens rarely, but it does happen. And if it happens to you it can be calamitous. Claims for $25,000 to $30,000 for a two-day stay are not unusual.

What do you do if you are faced with such a claim? First of all, don't panic. You'll have to come to some kind of settlement just as you would with any other legitimate claim for payment. When you were in hospital, you or your travelling partner surely signed forms confirming that you were ultimately responsible for payment of services rendered to you—even if you had travel insurance. Everybody signs such forms. Or you may have signed a credit card deposit. All of these are legitimate commitments and they are designed to cover those contingencies where insurers deny your claim or pay only parts of it, or you are responsible for co-payments, or you have no insurance.

The worst thing to do is write a cheque for the full amount billed and send it off. No hospital expects to be paid full "retail price." If you do that you will have overpaid. On average, U.S. hospitals collect only about one third of the retail charges they bill with domestic U.S. health insurers, so don't be afraid to negotiate and start low, be tough, don't hesitate to put up a "take it or leave it" stance, and before you send away one dollar, get a properly certified letter from a high authority at the hospital that your payment will be considered payment in full, no other collection efforts will be made. Sending away a cheque marked "payment in full" without having such a letter in hand is worthless. And a letter from a lowly accounting clerk won't do it.
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Update after link original link went missing
by Steven Haninger / February 1, 2012 7:19 PM PST
In reply to: Was this a USA problem
More information

It does seem the original story had some missing information as well as some being false. This might explain why it's no longer available in the original link. MSN must have pulled it for corrections. The original story is linked in the new one. My concern was with its title. That being that it suggested the incident to show a fault in US healthcare. I suspect others objected to that headline as well. Apparently she had some coverage but no claim had been filed. This still does not explain why any charges would fall upon her family but it does appear that more was collected than was billed. One would wonder what happens with the excess that was collected.
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Hmm, you mentioned
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / February 2, 2012 3:51 AM PST

about the excess collected.

I noticed this, "Michael Spencer, Burke's agent, who set up the donations page to help the family with medical costs, also did not respond to queries from msnbc.com by phone and email".

According to the article her agent never arranged proper cover for her but seeing as the agent setup the collection web site, I might assume that he is in control of the donations and any excess.


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Thanks JP
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / February 2, 2012 4:08 AM PST

Good to know and that changes the tone of my post.


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(NT) You're welcome
by JP Bill / February 2, 2012 4:38 AM PST
In reply to: Thanks JP
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