A Manx resident has racked up a medical bill of £ 25,000 after spending six months in the UK with a life-threatening illness.
Nikki Morrison traveled to East Sussex for her sister’s funeral in March, expecting to stay only 10 days, but was rushed to hospital for treatment after feeling severe pain in the stomach.
She was in hospital for six months and believed her medical treatment would be covered by the Reciprocal Health Agreement (RHA), which ensures Isle of Man residents visiting the UK receive healthcare free and vice versa.
That was until she received an invoice and found out that the RHA only covers a person for the first three months of their stay in the UK and starts from the first day the person arrives in the UK, and not on the first day of treatment in the hospital.
In total, his treatment cost £ 24,330.53.
Nikki said: “It’s pretty scary that no one I’ve spoken to understands what could happen.”
A government spokesperson said Isle of Man residents have always been told that travel insurance is essential for visits to the UK.
“Manx residents must ensure that they have adequate repatriation insurance, should they become ill or sustain an injury and require a specialized transfer to the island,” she said.
“Private travel insurance policies can also cover health and treatment costs.
“The Healthcare Reciprocal Agreement (RHA) between the Isle of Man and the UK covers the cost of treatment in the respective jurisdictions for up to three months, from the point of arrival in the UK. Uni and not from the first day of treatment.
‘All Isle of Man residents traveling to the UK (including on business, unless they are working in the UK for a UK company) should ensure that they have adequate insurance, in particular with regard to repatriation.
“This can be a considerable expense if, for example, the rental of a private air ambulance is required.
“Anyone traveling outside of the UK should make arrangements for full medical coverage in all countries they visit, both for medical treatment and repatriation.”
Nikki traveled to England on February 24 after learning that her sister had passed away. So she immediately booked a ferry.
“I didn’t have health insurance or travel insurance because I always thought I didn’t need it. I was only going to the UK, ”Nikki said. “It never occurred to me that I could end up with a huge bill for treatment.”
The Douglas resident continued: ‘I was in perfect health when I went to the UK, nothing wrong with me and wasn’t expecting it because I was only going to be there for a few weeks.
“On March 16, I suddenly started having terrible stomach pains and my other sister called an ambulance and they took me away.
“I had severe pancreatitis. The only thing I wanted was to attend my sister’s funeral and two days later they had to put me in a medically induced coma. They told me I wouldn’t be going out for a while.
Nikki’s illness did not end there. She had multiple organ failure as her kidneys, lungs and liver all failed despite having heart problems.
She was in intensive care for a month, was put on life support for a week, and plunged into an induced coma.
Nikki spent a lot of time recovering and relearning to walk.
“You lose all your functions when you are in intensive care for this long,” she added.
She was in and out of the hospital for a period of six months due to various problems.
“I was losing weight like crazy and I was just insanely sick,” Nikki said. “It was a really long drag – really, really tough.
“The day before my sister’s funeral, my family was told ‘she is in critical condition and we are doing everything to keep her alive, but don’t be surprised if she dies in the next 24 hours’.
When Nikki was last hospitalized, doctors told her that she was not strong enough to undergo general anesthesia, but two days later explained to her that she had to have an operation.
She continued, “They called my sister because I was hysterical. I made my funeral plan and said goodbye to my family and friends.
“It’s been a really horrible time and I was diagnosed with something called PICS, post-intensive care syndrome, which is your body’s reaction to the stress of having so much to do to you.”
Nikki added: “Every time the doctors came to me and said ‘we have to do this’ I would say ‘how much is it going to cost me?’
“They would always say ‘it won’t cost a thing’ and I would say ‘yes it’s because I’m not registered in the UK’.
She explained that it was “scary enough” that the doctors couldn’t tell her how much the treatments were going to cost and that she just had to wait for the bill to find out.
Nikki felt that she could not have returned to the island even if she had wanted to because she was not strong enough for the trip.
She said, “I was in a position where I couldn’t go home.
“I couldn’t have faced a theft. I could barely walk and was completely exhausted from the nine mile drive to the hospital.
“Also, if I had come back I would have had to do two weeks of isolation at home, but I couldn’t have brought in caregivers and needed full-time care.
“But if I had come back I would have come straight back to Noble and they would have had to either pay for the care there or move me to the UK.”
She returned home to the Isle of Man on Tuesday August 24.
Nikki was worried about covering the cost of the bill as she cannot currently work.
She said: “I won’t be back to work for a few good months yet.
“I have income protection insurance that will take effect on September 15.
“It’s really hard work to be half paid and I’m about to go down to zero pay and having a £ 25,000 bill on your head doesn’t really help when you’re not doing well.”
A GoFundMe page was set up in Nikki’s name by her niece to raise money through donations.
He has hit just over £ 5,000 so far of the £ 15,000 goal and Nikki thanked those who donated for being ‘so generous’.
You can donate by going to the page titled ‘Help Nikki Morrison Pay Her NHS Medical Bills’.