She was injured and has no insurance: what can she do?

A friend of mine (I’ll call her Betty for now) is currently in a bad situation with no clear way out. Another friend of ours is organizing donations, but it seems unlikely that B’s circle of friends will be able to come up with enough money to make much of a dent in her medical bills. I thought it might be worthwhile to appeal to the Teeming Millions and see if any of you have any suggestions for getting some help for Betty.

Here’s the situation as best as I understand it. I’m unfortunately a little sketchy on some of the details as Betty is in the US while I’m in Japan, and she’s in no shape to type right now.

  • Betty is a foreign national who’s been attending college in Virginia for two years.

  • While working at her summer job, Betty was badly burned in a kitchen accident. She sustained 2nd degree burns on both legs and 3rd degree burns on one hand. Last I heard, the doctors had not yet determined whether or not she’d need skin grafts.

  • This seems to have been a genuine accident, not the result of employer negligence or unsafe working conditions.

  • Betty had believed that she was covered by a health insurance her parents had arranged for her, but apparently it had lapsed prior to the accident.

  • I don’t know if transporting Betty to her home country for further treatment is a possibility, but she’s already racked up substantial American medical bills.

Right now I’m hoping that it will turn out that the insurance policy was still active. A relative of mine was in an accident a few years ago and there was initially some confusion as to whether or not she was covered or not. (It turned out that she was; we were given incorrect information the first time we contacted the insurance company.) But if Betty really and truly is without coverage, are there any organizations that she could turn to for help or anything else she could do? Neither of her parents are in the US and I’m not even sure if either of them speak English, so I don’t know if they’d have any idea who to contact for assistance.

If she was injured at work her employer should be responsible for those injuries AFAIK. Unless she was drunk or something at the time.

Any legal types want to confirm?

Wouldn’t Workers Compensation cover this? The employer should carry insurance on it’s employees incase of accidents. Really not sure if she would be covered or not. It’s a start anyway.

Worker’s comp should definitely cover this, that’s what it’s for. I assume she’s working legally?

She should definitely be covered under workman’s comp (unless her employer doesn’t carry it…I am under the assumption nearly all employers are required to). My husband was hurt on the job (a co-worker hit him with a forklift and broke his leg). In addition to the medical bills, they also gave him $6K. Her employer would be a fool not to have insurance. Look into it!

I’m pretty sure she was working legally, although now that I look back over the e-mails I’ve received from mutal friends I’m not sure it was actually a work injury at all. It’s only described as taking place “in the kitchen”. Last I heard Betty was planning to work in a restaurant for the summer so I assumed the accident took place at work, but no one has actually told me that. I’m going to ask around and see if anyone knows if it was at work or home.

Meanwhile, I’ve pulled up the relevant worker’s comp info on the web and will pass it along. It looks like that should take care of her if the injury was at work. I’ll bump the thread when/if I can confirm where the accident took place.

If Betty is a European, there may be some sort of reciprocal arrangement with her native country’s health service.

Most hospitals also have a Poor People Program. Two of my SILs have taken advantage of this. They charge you what you can pay. They had extensive stays and surgery (hip replacement, mastectomy, coma) and it was pretty much covered.

There’s really nothing they can do if she can’t pay. Poor is poor.

Hijack: SIL’s a term I’ve come across recently and can’t figure out what it means. Help?

SIL = Sister-in-law

AFAIK, worker’s compensation applies if the injury happened in the workplace. It doesn’t matter who, if anyone, was at fault.

A friend of mine had a hospital write off his bills for heart surgery a couple of months ago through one of these programs. We aren’t insured through work(which isn’t full-time anyway), and his wife doesn’t work, so they knew there was no way he’d ever pay the bill off. Maybe Betty can have hers written off as well if she’s poor enough as well.

I had a friend burn herself in a kitchen incident at work, and the workplace took up a collection from customers, and they matched dollar for dollar the customer donations.

I confirmed today that Betty’s accident was in her home kitchen, not at work.

Someone (not here) suggested to me that Betty should see if the hospital has a social worker, and if they don’t to try and contact with a social worker from the city. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that. I suppose a social worker would know about or at least be able to find out about a Poor People Program or anything like that. I think I may also attempt to get in touch with the Dean at Betty’s school and see if there’s anything they can do.

Sorry, Chairman Pow. I HATE using those silly acronyms, but as of late, when talking about the in-laws, I’ve sort of slipped into it. Thanks for the slap on the hand. I’ll try to be better.

I believe my sisters-in-law had a social worker assigned to them in the hospital. You might want to start there.

I’m bumping this thread to give an update on Betty’s situation. Her injury required her to withdraw from school, so her student visa expired and she was forced to return to her home country. However, before leaving the US she was able to get some help from the Salvation Army in paying her medical bills. Not sure how much they were able to do for her, but I’m sure it helped.

It’s still unclear as to whether Betty will need surgery. If she does, she will probably go to her mother’s home country (they’re a very international family), which has a higher standard of medical care and where her mother is currently living anyway to help care for a dying relative.

I discovered another problem with foreigners going to the US re. medical insurance. I was covered by my scheme back in Ireland, which insured me overseas for up to six months. When I looked into what it would pay, I discovered that it was “up to $5,000”. My coworkers laughed and told me this wouldn’t even cover an ambulance.

That’s complete nonsense. Few places actually charge for ambulance services, and in those that do, the fees typically run a few hundred bucks. They’re covered by medical insurance and medicare as well.

Fair enough on the price, but your second sentence makes no sense, since we’re talking about a foreign national (presumably without access to medicare benefits as evident from the tragic story in the OP), and the insurance is the foreign insurance I’m talking about, with a $5,000 ceiling.