Former pro rider Phil Gaimon has been left with a $250,000 medical bill after his velodrome crash last year.
The American was racing in his first race back on the track as he worked towards making the Olympic squad for the upcoming Tokyo Games when he crashed in a points race at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center in the Trexlertown area of Pennsylvania.
The 33-year-old fractured five ribs, his collarbone and scapula as well as suffering a partially collapsed lung, then being taken to hospital in an ambulance.
While Gaimon had insurance, the hospital spent three days looking for a surgeon who could operate on his shoulder, with Gaimon telling Cycling Weekly it was a "bad break and a complicated surgery".
However, no surgeon could be found and so he was transferred to another hospital, which turned out to be out of network for his insurance provider. Gaimon says this shouldn't have been a problem: "They should still cover it as an in-network surgeon didn't exist. I never got a price or estimate. Just a bill a month later for $96,000."
Throughout his hospital ordeal, Gaimon was heavily drugged and wasn't able to think clearly, he says, while other decisions were made for him. Another bill for $150,000 from the first hospital also arrived only a few weeks ago, which the American says he has no explanation for.
"The first hospital was all emergency. I don't have any explanation as to why they're not covering that yet. That bill only came a few weeks ago for $150,000," Gaimon says. "At all times I was on heavy narcotics and literally rolling around in pain, not really able to think. The decisions I made were just what could I do to feel alive again, or they were made for me."
At the time of the crash, Gaimon posted to his large social media following about how he was lucky he had insurance, and if he didn't have it he'd have been able to mobilise his fans to help him foot the bill. Therefore, he asked his audience to take that money and donate it to No Kid Hungry, raising $100,000 for the charity dedicated to ending child hunger in America.
Luckily, Gaimon expects to not pay for either of the bills that have arrived and is hiring a lawyer to help him through the process.
"Obviously I won't pay any of that," Gaimon says. "California has a process where you can force your health insurance to pay, which has been basically one afternoon every week where I organise my bills and make phone calls and scan documents for them. I'm hiring a lawyer now to help."
Gaimon is now back riding, although his Olympic dream was ended by the crash, with the United States track team also not managing to qualify for the track in Tokyo.
Instead, Gaimon will continue to focus on his 'Worst Retirement Ever' YouTube series. In February he plans to head to Colombia to tackle some KOMs before returning to the USA and heading to the Southeastern states for more videos in the Spring.
Then in May, with the Tour of California cancelled, Gaimon plans to replace the race with an event where people can ride across the state with him.
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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