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How Medical Bills Nearly Destroyed Me

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Eight years ago, I was involved in a surfing accident that nearly cost me my livelihood. I am an avid water baby and I have been surfing most of my life. This fateful day was no different from the other days when I had taken to the surf to relax.

It was an average swell and I paddled out, hoping to get a few waves in before dinner. There were a few other surfers out, and we were all taking our turns to ride the waves. I caught a particularly good wave and felt confident to ride it out, then head home.

While riding this beautiful wave, I was caught up in the moment – studying the beauty of the ocean and the sky. I wasn’t paying too much attention to where I was heading, because I knew I was aiming to get back to the beach.


The accident

Suddenly, I found myself on the rocks, being dragged by the power of the water pulling my board, which was strapped to my left leg. I had no hope. The ocean is powerful and there’s no way to fight it. I just let the water drag me across the jagged rocks.

Luckily, some of the other surfers were looking out for me. They paddled in and called the ambulance, ensuring that someone always had eyes on me. When the ambulance arrived, I learned the full extent of my injuries.

I had scratches and gashes all over my body from being dragged across the rocks. I had shattered my right hand, bruised my right eye socket, and broken my left ankle where the surfboard was strapped. However, I was grateful to be alive. I was grateful to those other surfers for being there, for watching me, and for getting the help I needed.

Expensive treatment

I headed to the hospital in the back of an ambulance and received all the necessary treatments and surgeries. I had to go to rehab for a few weeks to check that I was able to walk properly and whether I would make a full recovery. I was in the hospital for six weeks, two of which were for physiotherapy and rehab. I made a full recovery and didn’t worry too much. After all, I am covered by medical insurance.

About a month after my recovery and release, I received a medical bill for around $100,000. I called the insurance company, and they paid half the bill, leaving me with a $50,000 medical bill I would never be able to pay. It has taken me eight years to pay $50,000 on this medical bill. I will likely pay for many years to come.

Medical Tourism

I have since switched insurance companies. Instead of needing to pay thousands on a bill that should be covered, my medical insurance company covers me for medical tourism. I can get the treatment done abroad, which costs less, and my insurance company covers these bills for me.

I recently had a dental emergency and I was concerned about the cost here at home. However, my insurance company sent me on a trip for Costa Rica Dental Tourism and I came back, fully rested and fully covered.

Had I known before that medical care could be done this way, I would have likely insisted on being airlifted to another country after my accident. While I may pay these medical bills for the rest of my working life, I am still ever grateful to be alive, and that the damage wasn’t worse.

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