Traveling to another country? Be ready to pay up if you're in the hospital

Traveling to another country? Be ready to pay up if you're in the hospital »Play Video
Craig Leibelt

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Craig Leibelt's family says he made it to San Diego on a medical flight out of Mexico early Thursday morning.

But he was still in critical condition after running into stinging jelly fish during an ocean swim off Cabo.

Craig's family was also trying to get over the emotional shock from the Mexican hospital that wouldn't let Craig leave unless the family paid a bill they were told was $50,000.

“It's awful,” said Rachel Leibelt, Craig’s sister. “It's a nightmare that it seems that we can't get out of.”

Linda Bullington and her sister have been there.

“Well she had stage four cancer, so we were down in Mexico to celebrate her birthday. She didn't feel well,” Burlington said.

Linda's sister fell out of bed and dislocated her hip.

Doctors put it back in place, then ran blood tests because she developed a rash. It was cellulitis.

“To take her upstairs from the emergency room, they said we would have to secure a ten-thousand dollar account so they could take her upstairs to the hospital room," Burlington said. "Not many people travel with that kind of money, at least not in our group.”

Adelene Lindstrom of Northeast Portland's Addie's You and I Travel says it's not just Mexico.

Hospitals in most foreign countries will make U.S. citizens pay cash for services before leaving.

“99.9% of the time, there's very few places that will let you take the bill and send it to the insurance company and have them do it," Lindstrom stated. "In fact, I don't readily know of any, right off-hand.”

Foreign hospitals don't want to deal with U.S. insurance companies and too many people skip out on their bills.

Linda Bullington's solution for her next trip out of the U.S.?

“Take a credit card that has a high limit on it so that you can take care of your bill if you get hurt," she said. "That's something that I never thought about.”