Traveling while pregnant without international travel medical insurance
You’re healthy and you’re pregnant. Your doctor clears you to travel – But you go into labor early delivering a preemie baby overseas during travel. Only you have complications. And you don’t speak the language. And you don’t have international emergency medical insurance. And they don’t allow your husband into the delivery room.
The following is a sad, but true, story that is still ongoing as of this writing.
Kim and Fred Spratt thought they would enjoy one last trip as a couple before the birth of their twins, this August 25, 2015. (Article continues after image)
Unfortunately, Kim went into labor early. Since it was her first delivery, she wondered if she was having Braxton Hicks contractions. However, she was already in late stage labor and the babies were coming early. Unfortunately, the couple didn’t have travel medical insurance or international emergency medical insurance, so not only did they not have medical coverage, but they didn’t even have someone translating for them and explaining what was going on. They are still at Maternidade Dr. Alfredo da Costa hospital and a small apartment after almost six weeks, as they await their child being strong enough to be flown home.
A terribly sad story, Kim’s twins immediately went into distress in Lisbon, Portugal 3,500 miles away from home, family and her doctor, the day they arrived. The hospital her husband rushed her to didn’t want to treat her because they didn’t have their passports. And they had no overseas insurance.
Worse yet, they didn’t understand the Portugese the nurses and doctors were speaking and didn’t even have an emergency number to call. (Most of our policies have a 24/7 number with translators ready to help explain before treatment and registered nurses and doctors on call to immediately begin discussing your case with local doctors.) Fred was not allowed in the labor and delivery room with Kim when she was finally admitted to the hospital at 12:03 a.m. on Mother’s Day. She gave birth to Hudson Charles Spratt 11 minutes later, who weighed 1 pound, 12 ounces.
Their daughter Hayden Grace Spratt was born a few minutes later weighing 1 pound, 7 ounces.
On Memorial Day, 2015 young Hudson Spratt died. “Everyone spoke Portuguese, so I had no clue what was going on,” Kim Spratt said. (This is terribly sad and we cannot imagine how stressful the situation would be even without the added complications that could have been avoided.)
Kim Spratt last saw her doctor May 2, she said. “The doctor gave me 100% clearance, and we got total reassurance. We even got a letter for the airline in case there were any problems.”But like most travelers, they figured travel insurance was to cover airline tickets and lost bags and not the “what-if” of an accident or medical emergency.
According to the Arizona Republic story, Fred works in sales for a lock company, while his wife owns her own physical therapy business in Wall, N.J., and both had what they considered a middle-class life in New Jersey. Now, instead of paying $80.00 or so for international health insurance before their trip, they face a $200,000 bill according to a British newspaper.
Friends have set up a GoFundMe account for the couple and donors have given over $47,000 so far. Still, this is the kind of story that breaks our hearts. It is why we continue to get out the word, and do what we do, to keep travelers safe. Because so much of the expense, the heartache, was so unnecessary. It is by no means sure that doctors on call in America could have helped little Hudson or Hayden, but even knowing that the insurance was flying her mother to her side and was translating everything and maybe even getting the family evacuated/airlifted to another, more specialized hospital between May 10 and May 25, might have made a difference.
While no insurance policy will cover delivery for someone who is already pregnant, insurance will often cover emergency complications of birth and newborn complications of birth (not related to congenital conditions or hereditary disorders) such as premature delivery and birth trauma up to $1,000,000.
In this particular case probably both GeoBlue Voyager Choice or our BUPA travel plan would have been of great help and comfort and would have immediately gotten involved. Those are two we often recommend to expecting mothers who have clearance to travel.
For mothers who will be traveling:
1. GeoBlue Voyager Choice will cover for complications of pregnancy. Must be a U.S. resident with U.S. health insurance to be eligible: https://www.gninsurance.com/hth-excursion-single-trip-travel-insurance/
2. BUPA Travel Insurance will cover for complications through 36 weeks for a natural single pregnancy, (for pregnancy from fertility treatment or multiples up to 18 weeks). https://www.gninsurance.com/travel/pre-existing/bupa-global/ Domestic insurance not required, but BUPA would not have covered twins, so we probably would have recommended GeoBlue Voyager for Kim.
3. Atlas International will cover for complications of pregnancy through 26 weeks. https://www.gninsurance.com/atlas-international/ Domestic insurance not required.
As always in these cases, we encourage you to call us at 866-636-9100 toll-free for help so that we can make sure you have exactly what you need and understand your coverage before you purchase. None of these plans are very expensive in comparison to other trip costs or the alternative of traveling without protection. You can even Skype us at “good neighbor insurance.”
Please help the Spratt’s as you can at the GoFundMe account above, and please be praying for them. Our hearts go out to this new young family who seem like such beautiful people.