Call for Action Alert: Traveling abroad and avoiding hefty medical bills

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - A dream vacation turned ugly for a Colorado Springs woman.

Her family says she needed medical treatment in a foreign country, but doctors withheld their services until she paid thousands of dollars upfront. The nightmare didn't end there.

"It will leave you feeling the worst you've ever felt," said Ricky Cline after he received a tough call from his daughter. "It literally rips your heart out."

Cline says he couldn't believe what he was hearing. He was at home with his family in Colorado Springs when he heard from his 27-year-old daughter Kristen while she was on vacation in Cancun.

Kristen suddenly became ill and the resort doctor recommended a trip to the hospital.

There, she was told she needed to have her appendix removed immediately. But she needed to pay $20,000 upfront.

"You're not leaving," Ricky explaining what his daughter heard while she was hospitalized. "We're not doing surgery unless you pay."

Cline was thousands of miles away, he and his wife Lisa were powerless.

"Just the thought of Kristen laying there," said Lisa. "I mean you're appendix can burst and that's life threatening."

Ricky and Lisa say Kristen has Medicaid which neither Mexico nor any other foreign country recognize.

They maxed out their credit cards and also got financial help from Kristen's boss and others to pay for the surgery.

After that, came the second shocker. The hospital reportedly refused to release Kristen unless she coughed up another $7,700, supposedly to cover complications. The worst part, they say a security guard armed with a pistol was then stationed outside her room.

The Clines fought them for nine hours. They say they were able to get a hold of an attorney to "sneak" Kristne out.

Thankfully, Kristen is now on her way home to Colorado and her family. The Clines say they learned a big lesson.

11 News Anchor Betty Sexton looked into what you need to know if you have plans to travel abroad.

A $50 travel insurance policy purchased before she left, would've made all the difference in the world. One phone call to that insurance company is all she would have needed to make.

"Protect your children, protect yourself, do the research, it can happen to you," advice from Ricky.

Donna Fry with Always Travel says if you're planning to travel outside the U.S., check with your health insurance company before you go, so you know what is and isn't covered.