Travelling while Pregnant

An Australian couple was visiting Vancouver last summer and, at 26 weeks gestation, the wife gave birth to a new baby girl. The premature infant required 90 days of care at a cost of $707,000 on top of the labour and caesarean delivery which was another $19,000. The couple had bought travel medical insurance, believing that they were fully covered but quickly found out that they weren’t.

As a Canadian with public health care, some of that money would be recoverable if this happens to you but you’d be shocked to find out how much – or should I say how little. B.C. Medical Services Plan will cover only a small fraction of the bills. For example, their website states that they cover a maximum of $75 per day for emergency in-patient hospital care while the cost of this at a U.S. hospital could range from $1,000-$10,000 per day or more. When you look at the Australian couple’s example mentioned above – they’re now faced with a $726,000 bill from a Canadian hospital. When you consider that the cost of a regular birth in the U.S. are 3x that in Canada (when you’re paying cash), we can safely assume their already large bill would have been much higher if this had of happened south of the border.

Most travel insurance policies (but not all) will cover pregnant women up to the 30-32 week mark. The baby however, may not be covered at all. At this time, there is no insurance that will fully cover a premature baby if born outside of your home province or country. In addition to the medical risks of travelling while pregnant, you need to consider these financial risks too.

For example, one insurance provider lists other exclusions as including:

“If a dependent child is born while the child’s mother is outside of her province of residence, the dependent child will not be insured with respect to that trip.”

This of course is buried deep inside of the fine print, well below the line that reads “Pregnancy of the covered person and premature birth and complications arising from the pregnancy within 8 weeks preceding the expected date of delivery”. This confusing wording leads many to believe that their coverage is adequate as long as they haven’t reached the last 8 weeks before their due date. They don’t find out the real story until it’s too late.

When considering travelling during a pregnancy, many people take some steps to consult with their doctor, check on airline policies and even buy travel insurance.

Before you pack your bags, take a second look at what it may cost you and decide if this trip is really worth it.