Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Jumping the gun

What struck me about the Lincolnshire couple whose baby was born 11 weeks early in New York was the amazing generosity shown to them by so many people.

Instead of a chorus of "Why on earth fly when you're heavily pregnant?", people were falling over themselves to help the unfortunate couple - Katie Amos and Lee Johnston - who were facing a £130,000 medical bill.

The hospital said the couple's travel insurance would cover the bill. A housing charity gave them somewhere to live. A nurse at the hospital gave Katie a pile of clothes. And thousands of pounds have been donated to help them with their living expenses - as their son Dax won't be fit enough to fly back until March.

Actually quite a few things struck me about this story:

1) The potentially ruinous cost of health care in the States. People are frequently bankrupted by astronomical bills.
2) Such a basic event as having a baby doesn't qualify for free assistance but is fully chargeable.
3) In the light of (1) and (2), they were wise not to skimp on travel insurance.
4) They'll have time to get to know New York very well on their enforced 10-week stay.
5) Is their son now entitled to American citizenship, having been born in the USA?
6) They'll probably be too embarrassed to set foot in the USA ever again.
7) Alternatively they'll make lots of new friends over there and be keen to keep in touch.
8) Dax's first words are likely to be "Give me some candy, dude".

Or in the light of his expensive birth, they might even be "Buddy, can you spare a dime?"

Pic: Lee Johnston and Katie Amos

25 comments:

kylie said...

i agree that the US system is far from ideal but in fairness, someone who had a premmie baby on a visit to australia wouldnt be covered, either

CheerfulMonk said...

If she had the okay from her doctor, 11 weeks before anticipated delivery should have been fine for traveling. Good for them for getting travel insurance! And bless all the people who offered to help.

Nick said...

Kylie: No, that's why getting adequate travel insurance is a must.

Jean: Anyone who thinks of New Yorkers as being mean and self-absorbed is obviously wrong.

Bijoux said...

I thought travel insurance was just for travel related costs? Such as, I get sick and can't make my flight, so I get my plane ticket cost refunded.

Nick said...

Bijoux: No, it usually includes medical insurance up to quite a large sum - it can be up to $1 million.

susie said...

Who knew? (Your comment above regarding travel insurance.) I guess I didn't, since I travel about once every 7 years.

Nick said...

Susie: It's standard practice. In fact I'm just looking at a policy which covers medical expenses up to $15 million. That includes repatriation and associated costs. It also covers personal effects up to $3,000, legal expenses up to $37,000 and personal accidents up to $37,000.

Ursula said...

I am firmly in the camp of "what are people thinking flying (unnecessarily) long haul when pregnant?" There are risks you take and there are risks which are plain stupid. By which I don't mean taking out travel insurance (be it on your head) but possibly jeopardizing the future health of your unborn (and your own). Ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous. There is no excuse. As to the States: The more terrifying rides of the likes of Disney Land state quite clearly that pregnant women should abstain. I wonder why.

The little blighter has all my sympathy. Wonder how soon his parents will take him on a 24 hour flight when his ear drums will hurt so much he'll be screaming all the way to Australia.

U

Nick said...

Ursula: Well, her doctor thought she was safe to fly at her stage of pregnancy, but I must say if I was pregnant I wouldn't like to take the risk.

As for the flight to Australia, that's a little cynical of you. As far as I know, they're not contemplating any trips to Oz in the near future.

Liz Hinds said...

I noticed that our local supermarket had a selection of American goodies including Goober, which is a jar of peanut butter striped with grape jelly. Apparently America's favourite. Let's hope Dax doesn't develop a taste for such a monstrosity.

Nick said...

Liz: I believe peanut butter and jelly is a quite normal combination for Americans, however weird it seems to us Brits. I could think of much worse things to develop a taste for. Like the calorie-laden Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

Ursula said...

Since when can doctors give a guarantee? They can only advise, work on probability. The rest is up to us and the unpredictability of mother nature. It's easy to lose a baby at any point of gestation. To hold onto one a little forethought will, most certainly, not hurt.

Anyway, Nick, glad to hear that voice of reason prevails and you too wouldn't take avoidable risks when pregnant.

And of course, as you say, I am being cynical with regards to their forthcoming trip to Australia. Give it another two years - when with a bit of luck - Dax (what's in a name?) will have caught up in general development and his parents will want to meet a kangerooh. Trust me. Nothing will stand between a selfish parent's desire and their kids' wellbeing. I know a couple just like it. Needless to say I am not on speaking terms with that fool of a mother any longer. Her choice not mine. A little on the touchy side when questioning her wisdom.Though have to hand it to her: She had no shame putting two toddlers and one baby through it (all at the same time). And naturally lived to tell the most "amusing" tale of how they yelled throughout the flight, how she "soothed" them whilst exchanging daggers with her fellow passengers.

U

Nick said...

Ursula: I hadn't thought about the general risk of losing the baby altogether. Could air travel bring about a miscarriage? I have no idea.

As you say, that mother sounds distinctly selfish and not too bothered about her kids' welfare - or the other plane passengers. The adjacent passengers must have been seething at her behaviour.

Grannymar said...

Nick, I think most travellers think of the length of a plane journey and not the ups and downs. If the change in cabin pressure as a plane climbs to the correct air corridor, or drops coming back to earth again, can cause DVT or heart attacks, then why would it not bring on the early birth of a baby?

I know that when I was pregnant all those years ago, I refused to go on a holiday that involved flying.

Cynthia Springer said...

What comes to my mind is that baby may have health problems due to the almost 3 months premature birth.

Helen Devries said...

The poor blighter will probably find as he grows up that he is subject to U.S. tax on his global income...

Nick said...

Grannymar: I didn't know the change in cabin pressure could cause DVT or heart attacks. In that case, it's very likely it could cause harm to an unborn baby.

Cynthia: That thought had occurred to me too. It was extremely premature and that can always cause health difficulties.

Helen: Really, is that possible?

kylie said...

I dont think air travel is a known risk for miscarriage but there are people who take precautions against radiation if they need to fly during pregnancy.

There are two things mothers can do to reduce the risk of premature birth (as opposed to miscarriage which is earlier)
the first is to have healthy vaginal flora (the actual study on this was about eating yogurt with live lactobacillus cultures)
the other is to have adequate weight gain during pregnancy

Nick said...

Kylie: Radiation? Is that a serious risk on a plane?

I wonder if her doctor or ante-natal nurse suggested those two precautions? I don't know if they're routine recommendations or not.

Rummuser said...

That child will turn out to be an exceptional one. Mark my words.

Nick said...

Ramana: Could be. As long as he survives. He was extremely premature.

Secret Agent Woman said...

I sure wouldn't have gotten on a plane that late in the game unless it was an emergency. But I'm glad things worked out for them. I don't know why it would surprise you that Americans would respond generously - we are like anyone else.

As for that product "Goober," no it is NOT a favorite of most Americans. It's disgusting - cheap peanut butter with cheap jelly. But a good PB&J on wheat bread with good peanut butter and good jam is still something I like, although I do't have occasion to eat it often. I'm not sure Britain is known for it's taste in food.

Nick said...

Agent: Well, I've read stories of Americans in serious medical difficulties not getting any help at all, which is why I was surprised at the level of generosity in this case.

Oh, you're right, Britons' taste in food is often appalling, I'm not holding us up as an example! Good to know there are better alternatives to Goober.

Jenny Woolf said...

Yes, something rather memorable about that story. I don't think she was awfully heavily pregnant though was she - more that the baby was dreadfully premature. But as for healthcare in the US - I might hvae posted here (or perhaps on someone else's blog) that one of the things that really shocked me was the rows of medications in pharmacies for people to try on themselves since obviously many were reluctant to go to the GP. And this includes shelves of - year - antibiotics!. So it seems that one of the consequences of their inadequate healthcare system is that the rest of us are put at risk from antibiotic resistant drugs.

Nick said...

Jenny: Over-the-counter antibiotics? That's crazy, considering the increasing ineffectiveness of antibiotics. And presumably people whose conditions get no benefit from antibiotics are free to buy as many as they want?