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Aussie tourist’s medical bill hits nearly $1m

Couple were hit by car on way to Yosemite

An Australian traveller racked up a medical bill of nearly a million dollars after spending several weeks recovering from a car accident in the US. 


Perth residents Katie-Anne Salter and Jacob Lanigan were driving from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park in California when a car crashed into them in a head-on collision. 


“A car (came) the other way, flying out of control,” said Mr Lanigan. “Both of us were screaming. There’s just airbags in your face, broken glass everywhere.” 


Aussie couple were on their way to Yosemite NP


Unlike the driver of the other vehicle, the two Aussies survived, but Ms Salter had been badly injured in the accident. 


“My L4 vertebrae had actually burst so it had burst so it had little parts of bone spread out,” she said.


According to, the Western Australian underwent several operations, spent some five days in ICU, more time in a general ward and then rehabilitation. 


“My main priority was can I walk again? I didn’t really anticipate how hard it would be,” said Salter, who was assisted by insurer Cover-More. 


While she is now walking again, her insurance claim came to $900,000. 


“Kate’s parent’s flights were covered, the helicopter was covered, they said all my medical bills were covered, all Kate's medical bills were covered so we didn’t need to worry about that at all,” Mr Lanigan said.


With the US home to some of the most expensive medical care in the world, Cover-More Travel Insurance group communications manager Maureen Mullins told News it wasn’t unusual for claims to that high for “serious motor vehicle accident cases”.


“Kate required emergency surgery and lengthy hospitalisation to recover — cases of this type in the US can easily reach $1 million,” she said.


“The US health care system is complex and can be confusing for Australian travellers because it is so very different to our own. You’re charged for everything.


“If you are uninsured and you present at a hospital in the US for treatment, you are usually required to make a pre-payment, secured by a credit card, and each day you stay in hospital you will be under constant pressure to keep your account up to date.”


Written by: Mark Harada
Published: 14 December 2018

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