Expat Kristen Dineen (left) received a shock diagnosis in Bali. Picture: GoFundMe
Expat Kristen Dineen (left) received a shock diagnosis in Bali. Picture: GoFundMe

Bali nightmare after woman’s horror discovery

FRIENDS are desperately raising money for an expat in Bali who has just discovered she has brain tumours - and travel insurance won't cover the cost of her urgent return home.

Kristen Dineen, 31, who has lived in Bali since a working holiday five years ago, thought she had a sinus infection but a doctor's visit last week delivered a shocking diagnosis: she had five masses on her brain, the largest of which was on her skull, 5cm in diameter.

While the young woman, from San Diego, California, is facing expensive medical bills and a costly flight home, travel insurance won't help cover the costs, because Ms Dineen had overcome melanoma in her 20s, and her current diagnosis is considered a pre-existing condition.

Expat Kristen Dineen (left) received a shock diagnosis in Bali. Picture: GoFundMe
Expat Kristen Dineen (left) received a shock diagnosis in Bali. Picture: GoFundMe

 

This isn't the first time a traveller's pre-existing medical condition - or one deemed to be such - has nullified travel insurance.

Earlier this month, a New Zealand mum died in a Bali hospital after she didn't receive an insurance payout because she failed to inform her insurer she had a pre-existing bowel condition.

Abby Hartley, 41, was on her second honeymoon when she fell ill with a twisted bowel and was rushed to a Denpasar intensive care unit, where she had emergency surgery.

Despite the success of the operation, she developed acute respiratory distress syndrome and was put in an induced coma.

She died on September 9 while her family were desperately trying to raise the funds to bring her home.

Travel insurers say Ms Hartley's high-profile case has prompted a spike in the number of inquiries about pre-existing conditions.

 

New Zealand woman Abby Hartley died in Bali after falling ill on her second honeymoon.
New Zealand woman Abby Hartley died in Bali after falling ill on her second honeymoon.

 

Chris White, the chief executive of Southern Cross Travel Insurance, told the New Zealand Herald it had seen a 20 per cent increase in inquiries relating to pre-existing conditions since the case came to light.

"It certainly has resonated with the public," he said. "There has certainly been an increase in awareness."

Allianz and IAG also confirmed they had received more calls from travellers wanting to share and confirm their medical history.

All insurers said it was important for travellers to be upfront about pre-existing conditions.

"They should be asking themselves; have I had treatment? Or have I sought treatment?" Mr White said.

He said those who had already bought travel insurance could get back in touch with their insurer to declare anything they'd missed.

"The commonsense approach is to go back and declare anything."

Mr White while it could lead to higher premiums, it brought peace of mind.

And it included anything that arose between the time the policy was taken out and the date the traveller left for their trip.

"It is not a set and forget until you have actually departed," he said.

 

 

The young woman needs to be urgently sent home to the United States. Picture: GoFundMe
The young woman needs to be urgently sent home to the United States. Picture: GoFundMe

 

Meanwhile, friends of Ms Dineen in Bali have set up a crowd-funding campaign after her brain tumour diagnosis to help cover the cost of her repatriation.

"Unfortunately due to Kristen's medical history - she fought and (beat) Melanoma in her early 20s - these new medical developments could likely mean the melanoma has reappeared and at a secondary point to the first cancer," the page read.

On the weekend she was transported by air ambulance to Singapore while she waits for her medical evacuation to the United States.

Friends said medevac was the most ideal option due to the medical staff on-board and the lower flying altitude.

"Due to the pressure this tumour is placing on her brain, the risks of flying on a commercial flight are potentially fatal," the page said.

While the trip to Singapore has added to Ms Dineen's costs, and the campaign has raised more than $120,000 of its $150,000 goal.



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