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Canadian Diagnosed With Brain Tumor In Thailand Denied Insurance Because He Had The Flu A Month Ago

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Update: A Canadian man diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour in Thailand has been told his insurance will now cover the $265,000 air ambulance trip home after initially being rejected because he had the flu a month ago.

Original Story

A Canadian man diagnosed with a massive brain tumour while on vacation in Thailand is fighting to get home after his travel insurance was declined because he told doctors he had a headache while suffering from the flu over a month ago. 

man has insurance declined
(Photo CTV News)

CTV reported that Kitchener resident Alex Witmer and his wife Jennifer Witmer quit their jobs earlier this year and went on a six-week trip to Thailand before planning to relocate to Toronto. 

When the couple was a month into their trip, the 30-year-old began suffering from a severe migraine.

(Photo CTV News)

“He got a migraine that didn’t go away,” Jennifer Witmer told CTV News Toronto from a hospital in the southern Thailand island of Koh Samui on Monday. “It just got bad.”

Jennifer Witmer said they went to the hospital and were expecting to be given pain medication for the migraine. But after doctors completed scans they were told he had “massive tumour deep inside his brain” that was cancerous.

couple devestated in thailand over diagnoses
(Photo CTV News)

"My husband was extremely healthy, he was an international athlete. He has never had any issues."

Alex Witmer was immediately given medication to reduce the pressure inside his brain that was causing the severe migraine, but was told he needs to have brain surgery, chemotherapy and radiation as soon as possible.

The couple was then told by doctors that the medication to reduce the pressure inside Alex’s head will only work for a few days and it would only be safe for him to fly home during that time.

couple stuck in thailand
(Photo CTV News)

“We have travel insurance, so we opened a claim and there was no issue we just got the go ahead yesterday. They were sending an air ambulance,” she said. 

"A few hours later they called back and said they received his medical records and it showed he checked into an emergency room in Moncton a month ago and had symptoms of the flu. He reported a mild headache and because he said that they cancelled our claim based off having a pre-existing condition.”

(Photo - CTV News)

“I don’t even remember him reporting a headache. I thought he just said he was vomiting, it didn’t even register to me. When the insurance company told me about the emergency room visit I said ‘Oh, well that was for the flu’ but they said ‘he reported a headache.'”

"They offered to still send an air ambulance service and quoted me $265,000 but that’s obviously not an option."

“We are right now waiting for them to call and give the final word on our claim but they have been telling me it doesn’t look good.”

“The longer we wait, the higher the risk becomes.”

brain tumor canadian
(Photo - CTV News)

The couple has started searching for other options to get Alex home, including flying on a commercial flight accompanied by a specialized medical team. If they can’t find a better option before the pressure in his head returns, he’ll be forced to have the emergency surgery in Bangkok.

"It's just cruel. Our neurosurgeon here said his flu symptoms are not pre-existing conditions. It’s insane they are flagging this. Right now we are trying to find private companies that can transfer him home for less money,” she said . “We have amazing friends and family that are doing everything they can to get us home."

On their website, Allianz defines a pre-existing condition as “an injury, illness or medical condition that caused someone to seek treatment, presented symptoms, or required medication.”

“This may have taken place anytime within 120 days prior to and including the plan’s purchase date.”

“Note that you don’t even need an official medical diagnosis from a physician for something to be considered a pre-existing condition.”

A GoFundMe page has been organized to help raise funds for Alex Witmer's care and has recieved more than $60,000 in just over 24 hours. 

With Files from CTV News Toronto

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Tuesday 10th of December 2019

It's just cruel.His neurosurgeon here said his flu symptoms are not pre-existing conditions. It’s insane.