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Rachael's $2,500 broken nail




Rachael Minaway, 32, and a friend had just arrived in Honolulu and hadn’t even checked into their hotel when she accidentally got her finger caught while slamming shut the glovebox of her rented car, breaking her acrylic nail. The result was $2,500 in medical bills.​​​​​​

rachael minaway


The incident ended up costing Ms Minaway’s insurer $2500. Picture: Rachael Minaway


“We literally got off our 10 hour flight, picked up the car from the airport, drove to the first beach on our list, parked the car...and then everything went downhill from there.”

In her haste to close the glovebox, Rachael slammed her finger on to the dashboard of the car.

“We had a late check-in, so we headed straight for the beach, and we were so excited to run out of the car and get into the water"

“We were packing away the GPS in the glovebox, and I was being too quick and smashed my fingernail between the dashboard and the glovebox, and it cracked.

“I didn’t think it was a big deal at all... it’s happened to all of us before.”

But after a while Ms Minaway’s finger started to go numb and she and her friend figured they should get it checked at the closest medical centre.

“It really hurt - like broken nails do - but I was on holiday and chose to ignore it and push forward with our plans. Then my finger started going numb, so I went to the closest medical centre where they told me my entire nail needed to be removed.



At the hospital, a doctor said it would be best to remove Ms Minaway’s fingernail, which she agreed to if she could get a local anaesthetic.

The whole thing only took about half an hour, and I was charged $1,200 on the spot!"

“I’d heard about how in America they don’t have Medicare like us, but I never expected (the cost) to be this outrageous for something this tiny."

"I was already upset enough about that, but then I was charged another $1,200 after I got back to Australia, which they [the hospital] wouldn’t stop emailing me about for almost six months after I got back.”

Luckily, Minaway had travel insurance with 1Cover, but shudders to think what would have happened if she had to pay all the costs up front. “I had saved like crazy for my holiday - I didn’t have extra cash to drop on a broken nail of all things.”

Minaway says she never thought that things could get so out of hand when travelling, and that there could be such a spillover of stress upon return.

“People just can’t believe my story...who would have thought a broken fingernail would end up causing this much drama?”

rachael minaway



The cost of medical bills in the USA

It’s very common for travellers to the US to be charged exorbitant on-the-spot fees for minor ailments - and then be chased for further payment after they’ve returned home.

We've seen $2,600 for a splinter that was removed, $10,000 for tonsillitus - and they didn’t even take out the tonsils, $28,000 for nausea and vomiting. 

You really can't put a price on peace of mind when you travel.

What can people do to minimise harassment from US hospitals for follow up charges?

Customers should contact their travel insurer at the time of seeing a doctor or visiting a hospital. This means they can be advised appropriately and that the travel insurer can liaise with the treating hospital if necessary.

The hospital/billing department may make an upfront charge, but they’re likely to push for follow-up charges. If the hospital/billing department has the details of the travel insurer, they may be able to liaise directly with the insurer instead of pestering the patient for these follow-up charges.