The cost of not having short-term team insurance – A true story

Don Jenkins, on his third mission trip to Central America, spent the day laying blocks for a church camp in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. That night he tripped on a concrete asphalt trench and hit his head. Jenkins suffered a subdura hematoma, and was in a coma for 30 days. He underwent two brain surgeries and was hospitalized for 90 days–6 in San Jose, Costa Rica, and 74 in his hometown. While still in a coma, he was flown home.

The fall would wind up costing his family more than $90,000. Because the accident occurred outside the United States, Jenkins’ domestic health insurance wouldn’t pay. Family members did not have the money, so his daughter mortgaged her house to get the $30,000 needed for an air ambulance to return Jenkins to Kentucky. The hospital in Costa Rica wouldn’t release Jenkins until the hospital bill was paid. His son used his corporate credit to pay the $22,000 bill, which the family is now repaying in installments. The doctors and surgeons in Costa Rica agreed to accept monthly payments. With donations from churches, friends, family members, and the Kentucky United Methodist Conference, about half of the $90,0000 has been paid. Now Mr. Jenkins’ family is on their own mission–to tell everyone to check their domestic health insurance before leaving the United States. Some policies cover health care in another country. Some don’t. Even if a policy will pay for treatment, generally it doesn’t include medical evacuation. (By Alberta Lindsey, Times-Dispatch Staff Writer, May 5, 2001, (condensed by J. Gulleson)

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