Dad falls ill on visit, son stuck with $300,000 medical bill

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Sahib Brar’s father, Surinder Singh, fell ill on a visit in June. He had to spend almost two months at a hospital where he received two surgeries to help resolve a life-threatening stomach infection.

Unfortunately for Sahib Brar, his father’s travel insurance covered the maximum amount, $100,000, which left him on the hook for a hospital bill of $208,051.

In an interview with a media outlet Brar said: “A normal person like me, they can’t pay that off. “I never expected my dad to come here to see me and he’s going to end up staying 56 days in hospital.”

Brar, a 27-year-old mechanical engineer, has not worked since last October when he was involved in a car accident that left him with a broken leg. He has been living off employment insurance paid for by Manitoba Public Insurance.

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It was only a couple weeks into his parents’ visit when Brar’s father, 59, began to feel unwell.

A few days later, surgeons removed his colon. After a second surgery to close his stomach, Singh was discharged from hospital Aug. 7.

While his father has been slowly recovering at home, Brar and his brothers have been figuring out ways to pay it off. He met with a representative from the hospital, he said, who told him the hospital would work with the family, so the balance can be paid off through installments.

Meanwhile Brar has also started a GoFundMe, where nearly $30,000 has been raised so far.

In Winnipeg rates for people who aren’t covered by provincial health insurance are set by Manitoba Health and in cases where families have difficulty in paying off large bills, hospitals will work with a patient’s insurers and the family to pay off the bills in installments.

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The nightmare faced by this family should serve as a cautionary tale for thousands of South Asians who bring their parents and grandparents to visit and put themselves at risk by not ensuring their visiting family members have adequate insurance coverage.

Many visitors to Canada adopt a very cavalier attitude when it comes to buying insurance. One visiting parent adamantly demanded his Toronto-based daughter not purchase insurance for him. His logic was if anything were to happen, he would go back to India and sell off his property to cover the medical bill.

Other parents and grandparents believe in positive thinking and that buying insurance for possible medical emergency could prove to be ominous.

But often at fault are their Canadian-based sponsors who don’t foresee anything untoward and end up buying the bare minimum insurance coverage which excludes plenty of pre-existing conditions which could prove to be financially ruinous for all involved. -CINEWS

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