$450K bill after surgery claim denied
Heartache: Bob and Grace Baile. Picture: Bill Hatto/The West Australian

A Thornlie couple say they are facing $450,000 in medical bills after a travel insurance company rejected their claim for emergency open heart surgery in the US.

Bob Baile, 67, and his wife Grace, 65, toured the US for three weeks before flying to Anaheim for a Disneyland holiday with their son's family in October.

When they arrived in Anaheim, Mr Baile went to the intensive care unit at UC Irvine Family Health Centre complaining of breathlessness.

The couple assumed it was a symptom of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which he had been diagnosed with in Perth.

But a few days later, he was having open heart surgery to replace a rapidly failing valve.

"Bob was diagnosed with COPD here in Perth so we thought that's what was happening," Mrs Baile said.

"We never thought about his heart - COPD is what we had drilled into us.

"The doctors told us it was our choice whether we got it done there or flew home but their advice was very clear."

The retired butcher was eventually discharged to his hotel room, unable to visit Disneyland with his grandchildren but grateful his life had potentially been saved.

Then about 10pm on October 9, the Bailes received a phone call from their insurance company, telling them their claim had been declined because of an existing heart murmur.

Mr Baile said they lay awake for the rest of the night, shocked by the news they could be down $450,000 when they had been so thorough with their insurance application.

"I knew I had a heart murmur," Mr Baile said.

"The doctor told me it was just a common thing for my age - he told me it was no big deal.

"You can buy a house for $450,000.

"I'd have to go and rob a bank."

The couple, who are privately insured in Australia, appealed against the decision and are now waiting for a ruling, expected this week.

Mrs Baile broke down yesterday when asked about the emotional toll the ordeal was taking on her and her husband.

"We don't know what we'd do if it was rejected," she said.

"We'll just keep fighting it until we die."

The West Australian

Popular videos

Compare & Save

Our Picks

Compare & Save

Follow Us

More from The West