A South Korean family holidaying in the United States were shocked to receive a bill for over US$18,000 (NZD$27,500) after they took their baby son to the hospital.
Jang Yeo-im was visiting San Francisco with her family in 2016 when her eight-month-old baby Park Jeong-whan fell off the bed and hit his head in their hotel room.
The distressed family called an ambulance which took the family to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, Vox reports.
To their great relief, the doctors said Park was fine, and after a quick nap and some formula he was discharged just three hours and 22 minutes later.
The family soon forgot about the incident and continued enjoying their holiday.
However, two years later they received a bill for US$18,836, including a hefty $US15,666 fee for “trauma activation”.
The “trauma activation” fee is applied when hospitals gather a team of medical professionals to meet patients with potentially serious injuries in the emergency room. However, the fee application varies across different hospital in the US.
“It’s a huge amount of money for my family,” Jang told Kaiser Health News. “If my baby got special treatment, OK. That would be OK. But he didn’t. So why should I have to pay the bill? They did nothing for my son.”
Unfortunately, while the family did have travel insurance, it would only cover $5000 of the bill — leaving them facing huge financial strain.
A spokesman for the San Francisco hospital told Vox that while Park didn’t require extensive treatment, being trauma-ready is expensive; hence the sky-high bill.
“We are the trauma centre for a very large, very densely populated area,” the spokesman said. “We deal with so many traumas in this city — car accidents, mass shootings, multiple vehicle collisions. It’s expensive to prepare for that.”