Travel Trouble

Courtney Allan

Woman left $2,500 out of pocket over a broken nail on US holiday

Woman left $2,500 out of pocket over a broken nail on US holiday

A Sydney woman has been left with a shocking bill that has left insurance companies warning travellers about the costs of getting injured in the United States.

Rachael Minaway, 32, arrived with her friend in Honolulu and hadn’t checked into their hotel before breaking her acrylic nail in a glovebox.

“We had a late check-in, so we headed straight for the beach, and we were so excited to run out of the car and get into the water,” Ms Minaway told news.com.au.

“We were packing away the GPS in the glovebox, and I was being too quick and smashed my fingernail between the dashboard and the glovebox, and it cracked.

“I didn’t think it was a big deal at all, it’s happened to all of us before.”

Her and her friend searched for medical centres to help them out with the issue.

“We typed in ‘medical centre’ in the GPS and I guess in Hawaii they call hospitals ‘medical centres’ because it directed us to the closest emergency room,” she said.

“At that point my hand was really hurting, and we thought, OK, they’ll just tell us what to do. 

“We just wanted to get back to our trip. And I was wasting my friend’s time for a fingernail, it was so silly.”

The doctor at the hospital said that it would be best to remove the fingernail, which she agreed to if she could undergo a local anaesthetic.

“It was so painful, I did not want to feel him ripping it off,” she said.

“But we were taking photos and laughing through it, I honestly did not expect it to be a big deal.”

It was all fun and games until the pair were presented with the bill of $1,200. 

“I had to pay it on the spot,” she said. “I told them we’d only just landed, I hadn’t even checked in my luggage at the hotel. But they wouldn’t let us leave without paying it.”

However, she was inundated with more bills from the hospital after returning home to Sydney.

“I remember emailing them after the first one and saying, ‘No, sorry, I’ve already paid for this’, but the invoices were for different things. They kept finding new things to bill me for. After a few months I regretted giving them my real address.

“It was pretty upsetting. I was six months pregnant at that point, and I kept thinking, imagine if didn’t have insurance and actually had to pay for all this myself.”

She was telling her story to warn other travellers about heading to the United States.

“I’d heard about how in America they don’t have Medicare like us, but I never expected (the cost) to be this outrageous for something this tiny,” she said.

“I feel so sorry for those people who go over there (to the US) and wind up with massive medical bills,” she said.

“You have no idea what’s going to happen.”