Expat parents of premature newborn twins face massive hospital bill

Published:  24 Aug at 6 PM
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An expat couple living in Taiwan are facing a massive hospital bill for their newborn twin daughters’ treatment due to a conflict of information on state insurance coverage.

Erica Brull-Reinhold and Bas Brull’s twin daughters, born prematurely on July 12 after a difficult pregnancy, were undersized and had other health problems necessitating a hospital stay and surgery. After almost a month, they were ready to be discharged and their parents paid the bill as presented. They’d been advised the Taiwan National Health Insurance policy, which gives two months of medical coverage to newborn babies as part of the mother’s policy, applied in their case.

However, before they left with their daughters they were told the twins were not covered due to NHI rules that babies born to foreign residents must have lived in Taiwan for six full months before coverage commences, irrespective of the mother’s entitlement. At that point, the hospital refused to release the twins until the full bill, a massive $41,000, was paid. After negotiations, the parents were allowed to take their babies home, but had to accept the option of paying monthly for a period of five years, forcing them to cancel their plans to leave Taiwan.

Both had been working as teachers for some years, but wanted to raise their children closer to their families. Once the story hit the worldwide media, a Taiwanese lawyer living in the UK stated online the law badly needed amending to cover all babies born to foreign residents from the time of their birth. He added the NHI handbook does not state clearly that newborn children of foreign residents are not covered from birth, instead implying that all newborns are covered with no exceptions.

However, there’s a happy ending to the story, in that the couple posted an online crowdfunding appeal to help them pay the huge bill. On the same day, a large, single contribution was posted, and their fundraising target of $38,000 was met. The babies and their parents can now get on with their lives without a huge debt hanging over them, thanks to the generosity of a single person.
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