Erin Greene, 30, of Montreal was mauled by the polar bear Nov. 1 as she walked home from a Halloween party in Churchill, Manitoba. The bear severed three arteries and tore off a piece of her scalp and part of her left ear. She received 28 staples, several stitches and blood transfusions after being airlifted to a Winnipeg hospital.
She's recovering from the injuries themselves, but not from the cost of her medical emergency, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Monday. While her Quebec province insurance did pay for her hospital stay in Manitoba, it did not cover her emergency transportation.
Greene is warning people not to assume their provincial or territorial health plan will fully cover them while traveling within Canada.
"I was a Canadian citizen and in my own country, so I didn't actually think I was going to be paying anything," Greene told the CBC.
But her Quebec plan won't cover the $11,944 for her medical ambulance flight or $1,215 for the ground ambulance services she received.
Greene said she learned those costs would have been covered if she were attacked by a polar bear in her home province, but not elsewhere in Canada.
Gayle Martens, Manitoba Health's director of insured benefits, said under the Canada Health Act, provinces and territories don't have to cover emergency transportation. "Sometimes," she said, "Canadians tend not to think about that."
Greene said she doesn't think that's right.
"As a Canadian, you should be covered, regardless of what province you're in," she said.
At this point, though, she's getting some financial help from friends who held a fundraiser in December and an online campaign that has raised about $2,000 so far.