A Host Mom needs advice on how to advocate for an Au Pair who needs surgery.
We are a host family to our second au pair midway through her first year. Our current Au Pair is impressively independent and strong. She’s had a run of bad luck since arriving in the US culminating in her breaking an ankle three weeks ago on some ice on the sidewalk near our house.
We did not realize her ankle was broken until last week, when she saw an orthopedic specialist who advised she have surgery as soon as possible. The Au Pair’s ankle is broken in two places and will not heal on its own.
Based on the doctors advice we scheduled the surgery but have been languishing waiting for the travel insurance company to give prior authorization to pay whatever share they intend to pay towards her surgery.
I have seen several questions on this blog about what happens in the aftermath of an accident that injures an au pair, but our case has an added dimension that we are at odds with the Au Pair Agency.
Our Aupair wants to have the surgery here and is very fearful of what might happen if she is sent back to her home country, where the quality of care is very questionable.
Her particular policy has a cap on outpatient surgeries in the USA. The insurance company has the ability to send them to their home country for treatment. Apparently extended waits for care such as this are the norm and she needs to have the surgery quickly so as not to jeopardize the quality of her recovery. I think this is a legitimate concern.
Throughout this process we have been supportive of her desire to try to have the surgery here and have agreed to make other childcare arrangements with family while she recovers in our home and collects a stipend. As a Host Family, we’re able to cope with her surgery and recovery.
I have been thoroughly disappointed in the agency’s response. They have offered little to no advice to either her or us. I am thoroughly disgusted with the agency’s continuing attempts to talk us into agreeing to send her back to her home country which is clearly not in her best interests.
My perception is that the agency is trying to get us to agree that it’s just easier for everybody if she goes home. And, no one can give an explanation of what will happen with her surgery who will perform it etc. if it takes place in her home country.
Worse — the Agency has made it clear that if she goes home for treatment she will be very unlikely able to return according to visa regulations, and they are obviously not going to do anything to assist.
This is setting up to a show down where she may have to decide to go ahead with the surgery and we try to help her do battle with the insurance company in the aftermath.
It is also setting up to a showdown with the Agency. The Agency called the insurance company and told them she wanted to have the surgery performed in her home country — despite my having told them numerous times verbally and in writing that she wanted to have the surgery here.
I sincerely believe that the Agency is trying to subvert our efforts to get this taken care of here. The Agency stated host families are rarely supportive of injured au pairs and it is generally a “better option” for everyone to just send them home. (The Agency has gone so far as to say she might be depressed if she has to recover here, surgery for her might be better in her home country, it will be much better for us financially etc.).
I have basically given up on the agency giving any consideration to us as a host family. I’m focusing on trying to do the right thing for our Aupair’s health in the absence of anybody else looking out for her interests.
Does anyone have experience with what can be done in this situation vis-à-vis the agency or the insurance company?
I am frankly very upset at the thought of “putting out to pasture” an Aupair with a relatively minor injury that has the potential to escalate into something major without proper care. The Agency’s very callous response in my opinion it is just maddening and wrong. Any advice is greatly appreciated.
Thanks you, Concerned Host Mom