The currently ongoing Tokyo Olympics were what Phil Gaimon was aiming towards when he crashed at a track in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania. Instead, he broke seven bones and was landed with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of medical bills after complications with his insurance.
The incident has reared up again after CBS spoke to Gaimon as they try to raise awareness of the unexpected medical costs suffered by Americans.
Gaimon had been rushed unconscious to a nearby emergency room at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania, receiving collarbone surgery before having a second surgery in New York.
While recovering at home, the bills started to come through the door, over $200,000, and his two insurance policies only made a $52,000 dent in that total.
Gaimon then realised the Lehigh Valley Hospital was out of network and his shoulder surgery had been classified as an "elective" operation instead of an "emergency" one.
"Both of the surgeries were completely necessary," Gaimon said. "I was just in tremendous pain all around.
"They hit you with the bills when you're literally least capable of handling anything. I get a stack of bills every month. I get collection notices every day."
One expert told CBS the problem was that Gaimon had hit three of the big landmines that come with hospital billing in the United States - out-of-network hospitals, high costs and the fact insurance from one state often doesn't work very well in another.
Gaimon has spent months on the phone and writing letters to his insurance provider, Health Net, so far unsuccessfully persuading them to cover more of his bills.
"This could happen to anybody at any time — where you can just wake up in a hospital and then later find out you owe them $150,000. I wish I knew that getting health insurance was still, essentially, a gamble," Gaimon said.
After the TV interview aired, Gaimon wrote on Twitter that the ordeal has been a big weight on his back, and how it's been odd to see his real-life politicised in the healthcare debate.
"Such a weird mix of stress and catharsis to see myself on the news like this all week and have my life debated and politicized by strangers," Gaimon wrote.
"I didn’t talk much publicly about my health debt drama because it’s been such a weight on my back with phone calls and hundreds of letters (the hospital claiming they hadn’t heard from me is really incredible) and I just want it out of my head.
"When something is miserable for me to experience I don’t want to put you through it either, but I’m glad it’s out now. I won’t be doing any more interviews and you won’t see more of this until there’s actual updates or resolution and I don’t know if I’ll ever get that."
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