Some U.S. conservatives have complained about foreigners coming to the United States to have "anchor babies." Jennifer Huculak and partner Darren Kimmel weren't trying for an anchor baby, just a vacation while nearly 6 months pregnant. The price for them to pay: almost $1 million.
Huculak went into labour 2 days into their vacation in Hawaii in October 2013. Reece was born prematurely and spent 2 months in the neonatal intensive care unit.
The couple bought travel health insurance from Blue Cross/Blue Shield. The insurance company said a recent bladder infection was a pre-existing condition, so the company would not pay for any expenses. The couple point out that there was no questionnaire from Blue Cross to disclose such ailments.
Even though Huculak's specialist confirmed that the bladder infection had nothing to do with her going into labour so early, the insurance company is refusing to pay.
"Ms. Huculak was diagnosed and treated for a high-risk pregnancy in the six months prior to departure. As Ms. Huculak is currently hospitalized and being treated for this high-risk pregnancy, any expenses incurred are not eligible under the terms of your policy."
Sadly, the reaction from Blue Cross/Blue Shield is considered "normal" in the for-profit U.S. health insurance world. The questionnaire is designed to force the insurance purchaser to list every single potential pitfall. Miss even one thing and insurance won't cover your bills, regardless of relevance.
A similar occurrence happened to a Calgary couple in 1997. The Alberta government, along with some generous donations, ended up paying the couple's bill.
The couple can't challenge the medical expenses after November 9, 2013 since the couple only bought insurance for the original travel plans plus an extra day of coverage at the end. The child had to spend 2 months in intensive care after her October birth. The mother spent 6 weeks on bed rest in a Hawaiian hospital. If the couple thought the insurance wouldn't cover the stay, the mother would have been better off in a hotel.
Also, if the coverage only pertained to the mother and partner, then the child's care, being a separate person, might not have been covered.
The couple has received some assistance from the Saskatchewan government, but the current debt is between $918,000-$950,000.
Canadians traveling to the United States should definitely buy travel health insurance. Assume that your insurance company will try and stiff you as in this example. If you or your partner is pregnant, consider your vacation destination very carefully.
Explaining how 59 of 100 people isn't enough to pass a bill requires explaining something about U.S. politics that can be confusing, even if you studied U.S. politics … or covered U.S. politics as a journalist (c'est moi).
So the U.S. Senate didn't pass the Keystone XL pipeline bill last week since 60 votes is the magic number to end discussion on a bill that would pass. If you are in favor of approving the pipeline in this fashion, wait a bit longer and the new Senate will pass the bill early in 2015.
President Barack Obama would veto such a bill, even though he might approve the pipeline eventually, down the road, at some point.
We've written about false GOP deadlines before and this would be another false deadline. But a bill passed by Congress puts the Obama Administration in a bad position, and ironically, could push Obama to say "no" even if he might want to approve the pipeline.
The Daily Show joked that the spectrum of permanent U.S. jobs from the pipeline would be 35 to millions. This doesn't count refining jobs in Texas. It's intriguing in both countries, where jobs are crucial, that the Keystone XL pipeline project in total wouldn't produce that many jobs in either country.
Canadian hockey fans have plenty of opportunities to hear The Star Spangled Banner at NHL games. Given Toronto's U.S. friendly reputation, watching the Air Canada Centre crowd finish the U.S. anthem last week against Nashville was pretty cool, but not surprising.
The apt comparison has been made to the crowd in Pittsburgh singing O Canada after the tragic Ottawa shooting.
The Toronto Maple Leafs fans had two major disadvantages over the crowd in Pittsburgh. They didn't have the words and had no warning.
Most knowledgeable hockey fans know both anthems or most of the words to the other anthem, but maybe not well enough to sing them out loud in a NHL arena.
The Buffalo Bills aren't scheduled to play in Toronto this year. With the snowstorm in Buffalo, Toronto was talked about as an option for hosting the Bills home game against the New York Jets.
Toronto was a very logical selection since Rogers Centre has hosted the Bills, is close by, has a domed stadium that was available, and not the snow issues.
The Bills host the Jets at Detroit's Ford Field tonight. While Ford Field has played host in such a circumstance (Vikings-Giants: Metrodome roof collapse 2010), Toronto likely wasn't picked since not all the NFL players would have passports.
The NFL plays games in London, England and sometimes in Toronto. Even the lowest-paid rookie makes enough money to afford a passport. If the NFL required passports, Toronto could have hosted this weekend's game.
The Bills and Jets have played in Toronto as part of the Bills Toronto series. The Jets edged the Bills 19-13 on December 3, 2009 in front of 51,567 at Rogers Centre.
While the Bills Toronto series had suffered in recent years, this game could have been a better sign of what Toronto can do with the NFL since a) Rogers would not be involved in the tickets and pricing, and b) the patrons in Detroit aren't paying a cent (Ford Field drew 45,910 in 2010).
One legitimate criticism of Toronto sports fans is that too many seats go to people with a lot of money and aren't as enthusiastic. A last-minute grab of NFL tickets — even for the Bills and the Jets — could produce a huge and loud crowd at Rogers Centre.
video credit: http://youtube.com/bagabus