A Sydney woman was charged $2,500 by a Hawaiian hospital after breaking a nail.
32-year-old Rachael Minaway hadn’t even checked into her hotel when she accidentally slammed her finger in the glovebox of her rented car, breaking an acrylic nail.
Minaway told News.com.au she and her friend headed straight for the beach when they arrived in Honolulu and she was packing the GPS away in the glovebox as quickly as she could so she could run into the water.
“We were packing away the GPS in the glovebox, and I was being too quick and smashed my fingernail between the dashboard and the glovebox, and it cracked,” she said.
“I didn’t think it was a big deal at all, it’s happened to all of us before.”
When her finger started to go numb, she decided it would be best to head to a medical centre so she and her friend typed ‘medical centre’ into the GPS and were directed to the nearest hospital.
A doctor advised Minaway that it would be best to remove the nail, which she agreed to do under local anesthetic.
“It was so painful, I did not want to feel him ripping it off,” she said.
“But we were taking photos and laughing through it, I honestly did not expect it to be a big deal.”
Minaway was charged $1,200 for the 30-minute consultation, which she had to pay on the spot. Luckily, her insurer covered the claim.
But it didn’t stop there. Months after she landed back in Sydney, Minaway was sent several more bills from the hospital totalling at $2,500.
“I remember emailing them after the first one and saying, ‘No, sorry, I’ve already paid for this’, but the invoices were for different things. They kept finding new things to bill me for. After a few months I regretted giving them my real address,” she said.
“It was pretty upsetting. I was six months pregnant at that point, and I kept thinking, imagine if didn’t have insurance and actually had to pay for all this myself.”
Richard Warburton, travel safety expert for 1Cover, Minaway’s insurer, told News.com.au medical bills in the US can be notoriously high, even for minor injuries like a broken nail.
“Recently, we had another customer who faced costs of $2600 for a splinter she removed in the US. She was harassed continuously for this tiny injury once she got back to Australia,” he said.
“A recent customer of ours saw the doctor for an uncomplicated case of tonsillitis. She was billed $10,000, and they didn’t even take out the tonsils.”