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Citizen Flown Back to US for Burn Treatment Gets Massive Bill

'$1,734,769.82 That's the price that I have to pay for surviving'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 7, 2021 2:34 PM CDT

(Newser) – After suffering burns over almost his entire body in a horrific accident in Mexico, American citizen Alexis Hernandez was flown to the US for treatment—and later received an unexpected bill for $1.7 million. The 24-year-old spent seven months at the US Army's Institute of Surgical Research in San Antonio, Texas after the January 2019 fire and received 19 surgeries and hundreds of hours of physical therapy, CBS reports. But when he returned home to Puerto Rico, he found that the insurance he had through his father's job as a police officer wouldn't pay because the accident happened in Mexico, and the government wanted him to send a check for $1.7 million to the Treasury Department.

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Hernandez says the accident happened just two days after he arrived in Guadalajara to study to be a doctor. He says a boiler exploded and he almost lost his life as he ran through the burning apartment looking for a way out. Hernandez says he had to "learn how to walk, how to eat, how to breathe, how to see, how to dress myself, how to do everything again." He says he still dreams of becoming a doctor, but he felt "completely hopeless" when he got the letter from the government. "$1,734,769.82. That's the price that I have to pay for surviving," he tweeted Wednesday. "I have questioned whether I should have survived or not." His local representative has not received a response to letters sent to the Treasury and other departments asking for the debt to be forgiven. (Read more healthcare stories.)

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