Tourist’s shock over $25k hospital bill

IT'S a moment that every new parent dreads - baby's first injury - and it can be even worse news when it occurs overseas.

Jang Yeo-im was on holiday in San Francisco with her family when her eight-month-old baby Park Jeong-whan fell off the bed in their hotel room.

He had hit his head, and while there was no blood, the baby was distressed so the family called an ambulance which took the South Korean tourists to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, Vox reports.

To their great relief, the doctors said Park was fine, and after a quick nap and some formula he was discharged just three hours and 22 minutes later.

The family quickly forgot about the incident and continued with their holiday.

Formula was all the baby was given at the hospital.
Formula was all the baby was given at the hospital.

However, two years later they received a bill that left them gobsmacked - the hospital was demanding US$18,836 (AUD $25,351), including a $US15,666 fee for "trauma activation".

This type of charge is applied when hospitals gather a team of medical professionals to meet patients with potentially serious injuries in the emergency room. These "trauma" fees are applied seemingly arbitrarily and vary hugely across different hospital in the US.

Unfortunately, while the family did have travel insurance, it would only cover $5000 of the bill - leaving them facing huge financial strain.

"It's a huge amount of money for my family," Jang said. "If my baby got special treatment, okay. That would be okay. But he didn't. So why should I have to pay the bill? They did nothing for my son."

The bill included a “trauma” fee.
The bill included a “trauma” fee.

A spokesman for the San Francisco hospital told Vox that while Park didn't require extensive treatment, being trauma-ready is expensive and that's why they received the sky-high bill.

"We are the trauma centre for a very large, very densely populated area," the spokesman said. "We deal with so many traumas in this city - car accidents, mass shootings, multiple vehicle collisions. It's expensive to prepare for that."