American with broken hip billed $78k for flight home from Northern Ireland because insurance wouldn’t cover

An American woman who suffered a broken hip while visiting Northern Ireland was billed $78,000 for a flight home because her insurance wouldn’t cover it.

Anne Silbaugh was flown home to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from Belfast via US Air Ambulance on Sunday before being taken to UPMC Mercy Hospital for hip replacement surgery.

She and her family are now facing a whopping bill for the specialised flight.

“We are putting up credit cards to cover the cost. It is a little bit over $78,000,” her daughter Toni Draksler told KDKA.

Ms Draksler said their US health insurance didn’t cover the flight and that they didn’t buy travel insurance.

Air Ambulance CEO and founder Clif Carothers sought to explain the high cost for his company’s flights to KDKA.

“Air Ambulance is a jet service, international jets that are outfitted as flying intensive care units, and we can pick up a patient from anywhere in the world and bring them to anywhere else in the world safely,” he said.

“If you’re going from Europe, it could be anywhere from $80,000 to over $100,000. Africa could be $130,000. Asia could be as much as $200,000.”

Travel insurance may reimburse you if you have to cancel your trip and in the case of medical emergencies.

“Whenever you leave the country, most domestic health insurance policies and Medicare will not pay for foreign health care, so you always want to have health insurance to pay for those medical bills and get you home if you need it,” Allianz Travel Insurance spokesperson Daniel Durazo said.

For instance, a 13-year-old on a cruise ship ended up stranded on an island in the Caribbean to have an emergency appendectomy.

“The cruise ship left without them because they had to wait for her to heal. They were on the hook for the hospital bill, hotels, and then trying to get everyone home because they didn’t purchase travel insurance,” Mr Carothers said.

“Absolutely recommend travel insurance no matter where you’re going out of the country no matter the additional cost that it does create,” Ms Draksler said.

Travel insurance can amount to between five and 10 per cent of the total cost of your trip.