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Jennifer Huculak-Kimmel's $1M baby bill denied by Saskatchewan Blue Cross

11/24/2014 12:40 EST | Updated 01/24/2015 05:59 EST
Saskatchewan Blue Cross won't reverse its decision to deny the claim of a Humboldt, Sask., family facing a bill of $950,000 after Jennifer Huculak-Kimmel gave birth prematurely while vacationing in Hawai last year.

However, a Toronto-based lawyer is interested in helping the family fight its massive medical bill. 

Sivan Tumarkin, a partner with Samfiru Tumarkin Barristers and Solicitors, is offering his services pro bono to the Humboldt family in a case involving a hospital in Hawaii. 

"The challenges facing this family are extraordinary and difficult," read a statement posted to the Saskatchewan Blue Cross website Monday morning. "As such, we urge Ms. Huculak to have our decision reviewed by an independent ombudsman. OmbudService for Life and Health Insurance (OLHI) is a national independent agency that provides impartial, third party reviews of customer concerns." 

Her husband, Darren Kimmel, said they're happy to hear a lawyer is interested in taking up their case. 

"It's great to have someone on your side who wants to fight for you, so that's a very nice offer," Kimmel said.

"I guess our next steps are whether or not we proceed with the lawyer. We have a couple decisions to make here in the next day or two and we'll see what becomes of it."

The couple had purchased travel insurance with Blue Cross, but the insurance company denied the claim, citing a pre-existing condition.

The couple's case has attracted attention across Canada and in the U.S. Kimmel said the coverage has been good on several levels. 

"I think we got our message across to Blue Cross, and from what I'm hearing, we've sure made a lot of people aware of their travel insurance plans and such."

Lynda Dobbin-Turner, from Lavenham, Man., was one of the Canadians touched by the family's story. She set up a gofundme page last week to help pay the bill. 

The crowdfunding account has raised more than $7,900 as of Monday around noon.

Kimmel said if Blue Cross pays their hospital bills, he and his wife plan to give every penny donated to a neo-natal intensive-care unit in Saskatoon.

Insurance company turns family down

Huculak-Kimmel gave birth nine weeks early while on holiday. Her premature daughter spent two months in intensive care.

The family had purchased travel insurance, but were turned down by Blue Cross, which cited a "pre-existing condition." The insurer said a bladder infection two months before the pregnancy meant Huculak-Kimmel was ineligible to receive coverage.

However, when they bought the insurance, the family says they were never asked about any pre-existing conditions by the insurance agent.

During the couple's hospital stay, Blue Cross had contacted the two, saying the insurance had run out after the baby was born. Kimmel said it didn't make much sense to extend the insurance when the pair had already been refused by the company.

The two tried, but were unsuccessful, in their attempt to get back to Saskatchewan via Medevac, as soon as they heard the claim was denied. One company wouldn't take the family; the other company said it required a full surgical team to travel with the mother on the plane.

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