A British couple stranded in Singapore until they can settle a £140,000 medical bill have highlighted the need for expats to take out medical insurance.
Even though the couple thought they were covered travel insurance, the policy failed to pay out for the care Chloe Wilkinson and her baby had in hospital when she unexpectedly fell ill on a flight between Australia and London.
Miss Wilkinson, aged 30, found out she was pregnant while living in Australia in November. She agreed with her partner Patraic Walsh-Kavanagh that they would tell their families when they arrived back in the UK.
They booked flights, but Miss Wilkinson fell ill on a stop-over in Singapore last month.
She was diagnosed with an infection and baby Lorcan was born prematurely at 24 weeks, weighing in at under two pounds. He remains in a hospital incubator and may have to wait for up to three months before he is fit enough to travel to the UK.
The couple had travel insurance for the journey, but the policy excluded claims relating to pregnancy.
The couple are stuck in Singapore until the hospital bills are paid but cannot work to raise any money.
They have launched a crowdfunding appeal for help.
Mr Walsh-Kavanagh, 27, who had worked as a plumber in Newark, Nottinghamshire, said: “All the doctors and nurses seemed concerned.
“After numerous tests, it was found that she had an infection, so she was started on antibiotics and medication to reduce contractions and prolong labour, to give baby the best chance of survival.”
The couple are living in a shared flat and paying their living expenses from savings.
Bursting with pride
“Lorcan’s been fighting with all his might and we are bursting with pride at the strength he is showing so far,” said Miss Wilkinson.
“However, we are on our own, a 14-hour flight away from our family and friends, and it has been a very difficult start to parenthood whilst Lorcan remains in hospital.”
Pregnancy is not an existing medical condition and should make no difference to the price of travel insurance cover.
But it’s worth noting that many airlines have time limits on when pregnant women can fly hidden in the small print on tickets and web site terms and conditions.
Typically, the restriction applies between 32 and 36 weeks. After week 28, some airlines will want to see a doctor’s letter confirming the mum-to-be is fit to fly, the due date and if any complications are expected.