$20K bill for hospital care

A Port Moody man who was treated for a rare brain inflammation is reaching out for help after being stuck with a $20,000 bill for his care.

Jonathon Khounviseth was running a restaurant in Japan with his wife when he lost some of his vision and was suffering from fainting spells. An MRI revealed lesions on his brain, so with the threat of cancer looming, the Port Moody secondary school graduate flew back to Vancouver to be with family while his wife wrapped up the family business.

“I didn’t want her to deal with all these issues and the baby, too,” said Khounviseth, who had medical insurance while in Japan.

Sick upon his arrival in Vancouver, Khounviseth checked in to Vancouver General Hospital, where, after testing, he learned he had acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which is usually diagnosed in children.

For the young dad, it was a relief to know he didn’t have cancer. But when he found out that he would have to pay the $20,000 medical bill for treatment because MSP requires a three-month waiting period, the financial concern outweighed his positive diagnosis.

“I just thought with, especially being a Canadian citizen all my life, I think I would be considered more than a PR [permanent resident] just coming here,” said Khounviseth, who had paid into MSP for most his professional life except for four years in Japan.

He has appealed but has so far failed to win a reprieve and is now shelling out $600 a month to pay off the the costs while supporting his baby boy and wife and dealing with lingering health issues.

Khounviseth has set up a GoFundMe page to get help with some of his costs while also warning others about the waiting period for reinstating health care.

“Either wait until the period is over if you can or, if you are in a country where you are covered, stay there if you can,” he told Glacier Media.

According to MSP, new and returning residents are required to complete a waiting period consisting of the balance of the month in which they moved to B.C. plus two months before benefits can begin. 

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