Maui – A drive along the panoramic “Road to Hana” (USA)

Categories: Travel reports, North America, USA, Hawaii

This morning we actually slept and only started in the late morning with our rental car for a small island tour. Our main goal was the Road to Hana, one of the most beautiful coastal roads in the USA. That we would spend several hours at the end of the day in the hospital on Maui, we could not have guessed at that time…

Hawaii




The Road to Hana on Maui

We drove the Hana Highway east, which winds along the coast for a total of 51 miles. More than 600 serpentines and 54 bridges are crossed.

Especially from the air you can see how beautifully the road along the north coast of Maui is sloping.

The surf spots at Hookipa Lookout

At some vantage points you could again see many surfers who have thrown themselves into the waves. For example, we made a short stop at the Hookipa Lookout.

Hike through the bamboo forest

Another nice stop on the Road to Hana is the Bamboo Forest, a forest made entirely of bamboo. The Hawaiian name is: Na’ili’ili-haele Stream & Waterfall. We hadn’t seen that before. The entrance to the bamboo forest is unfortunately not so easy to find. There is no direct signage or the like. We noticed above all that several cars suddenly parked on the side of the road. From here there are several entrances through the thicket at the right side of the road. All this looks relatively inconspicuous from the road, but after only a few meters you are surrounded by meter-high bamboo. There are several paths through the Bamboo Forest, which are also crossed by small rivers. In wet weather (as with us) you should also have suitable shoes with you.

Unfortunately, the weather got worse and worse: rain and fog….

Our trip to Maui Memorial Medical Center

Michael had suffered a minor injury to his leg while diving in Cancun. Actually not so bad, but the wound had become more and more inflamed in the last days. We thought it would be a good idea to take a broadband antibiotic, which we had already received at home from our GP for the trip. In addition, we got a cortisone cream in a pharmacy, which the co-worker recommended to us there. After Michael had taken both in the morning, he suddenly got a bright red rash on the whole body in the afternoon and he had the feeling that his neck was tightening and he was getting less and less air.

As things got worse and worse, we decided to go to the nearby emergency room of Maui Memorial Medical Center. Unfortunately, we did not have another possibility on a Sunday afternoon. The waiting area was reasonably full. After a short registration at the reception, where you had to fill out a questionnaire, we were able to sit down in the waiting area. Since the waiting list was apparently processed according to the principle “Who has the worst, come first” and we had entered on the questionnaire “Allergic shock”, we were called after only 15 minutes. The first station was a small room where a nurse measured blood pressure, performed pulse oxymetry and asked for the exact course. Michael also got a ribbon tied to his arm with his name, registration number and date of birth on it.

After all this had been clarified, we had to wait a little again until a nurse picked us up and took us to an emergency room. There Michael had to put on a hospital shirt and lie down on the couch. After we told her again what had happened, we had to wait again … and wait … and wait. Until at some point a doctor came with his 2 medical students and asked us again what happened. So we told our story for the 3rd time 🙂

He then took a quick look at Michael’s leg and talked to his students and explained to them what it might be. We felt a little bit out of place. After we asked what he meant, what it could be, we also got a short answer: an allergic reaction. Hm, ok … is therefore consistent with our first presumption. After he hadn’t even touched Michael and just said that the nurse was coming back, he was gone after about 5 minutes…

After waiting again, the nurse came back and gave Michael a syringe to suppress the allergic reaction and another antibiotic. For observation, he had to stay for another three-quarters of an hour, because one wanted to make sure that everything fits and he does not get any further allergic reaction. The nurse then handed us a prescription for the pharmacy, where we should pick up more medications. After about 3 hours we were finally able to leave again. The way out of the emergency room leads past the “payment point” to settle our bill.

The cost of hospitalization

The hospital’s payment office is a bit reminiscent of bank counters. Three were next to each other, equipped with computers, card readers and separators. When we got the “bill” of 237 USD, we just thought “Hmm, ok. It’s expensive, but you always hear bad things from American hospitals, so it’s ok in terms of price.” So we paid everything on the spot and were able to leave.

In the pharmacy we got for 20 USD of medication, which Michael took daily. After one or two weeks everything was gone – just good. But the surprise came when we returned home at the end of June 2015. Because there were bills and reminders from Hawaii piled up in the letterbox. Oh ever 🙁

In America, you get two different bills: (1) from the emergency department, that is, from infrastructure, and (2) from the medical staff. For us, it looked like this:

(1) Invoice from Maui Memorial Medical Center in the amount of 428 USD. Of this, we had already paid 237 USD, so that 191 USD remained.

(2) Med Hawaii invoice of USD 1,256. This included USD 1,152 in medical expenses (for a whopping 5 minutes, Hawaii Sales Tax, and USD 56 for pulse oxymetry.

After looking at the invoices, we found out that Michael was ranked in the Emergency Room (ER) Level 4. Since we couldn’t do anything with it, we googled and found the following:

“There are 5 ER levels (1 – 5) that hospitals use when billing patients who visit emergency rooms. The different levels reflect the varying amount of resources (equipment and supplies) the hospital utilizes for the particular ER level. Level 1 represents the lowest level of ER facility fees while ER Level 5 is the highest. Level 4 would represent the 2nd highest level of the 5 levels hospitals bill for their ER levels. Currently there are no nationalized standards for how hospitals assign the different ER levels. Hospitals are allowed to establish their own guidelines for how to bill these different levels.” [Source: nerdwallet.com]

In another report, we found that level 1, for example, is a nosebleed and level 5 is, for example, a heart attack. Well, so we’ve been a bit smarter before. However, we did not quite understand why Michael was then classified in level 4. Since an American telephone number was stored on the invoice for questions, we simply called and asked. The lady on the phone was very nice and helpful and could understand our concern. She gave us an e-mail address in which we should explain our request again and ask for an opinion on the invoice. A few days later, several emails went back and forth, came an email that said:

“If you don’t have insurance to cover this service and this will cause a hardship, please send us a letter informing us of that and we will have his account reviewed for a discounted amount.”

So let´s do it. We asked for a reduction in the sum and in the end we had to pay “only” 569 USD to Med Hawaii. The other bill from Maui Memorial Medical Center was simply automatically set to 0. So we would have had to pay a total of USD 1,684 and ended up paying USD 806. So we got a “discount” of just under 50.

In general, we always recommend taking out international health insurance when travelling abroad! Now compare different rates at Check24.de.

Of course, we had taken out such foreign health insurance beforehand – but stupidly the USA was excluded from this insurance in our tariff! The background is as follows: a worldwide international health insurance costs less than 0.90 € per day, so really cheap. However, this only applies without the USA & Canada. If you include these two countries in the protection, the amount is more than €3.30 per day. So the whole thing becomes 3 1/2 times as expensive.

We thought, ok, we are only 2 weeks in the USA in the 6 months of the world tour and we just take the risk. After all, that’s 700 € more for 2 people. We also asked the health insurance company if the benefit period and the contribution can be divided as follows: 2 months without the USA, then 1 month with USA and then again 3 months without the USA. We didn’t see why we should pay the expensive fare for 6 months if we’re only in the U.S. for 11 days. But according to the health insurance company, it is not possible to divide the management period. Either completely or not at all. So we took the risk. And the devil is, as you know, a squirrel – and it was at that time that we had to go to the hospital in the USA.

Our luck, however, was that we had included three months of foreign health insurance via one of our credit cards. And through that we were able to cover the costs of the hospital stay afterwards. So everything went well again 🙂

All travelogues from Hawaii (2015)

Our world trip led us after almost 2 months from the American mainland to Hawaii. Situated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 3,600 kilometres away from the US mainland, the 50th state of the USA. For many, it is the epitome of the South Seas. During our two-week stay in Hawaii we visited four of the six main islands: Kauai, O'ahu, Maui and Big Island. Each of these islands has its own personality, nature and sights and offers different activities for all tastes: From the big city Honolulu with the famous Waikiki Beach, the fascinating Waimea Canyon and the breathtaking Napali Coast on Kauai, the famous Road to Hana on Maui to the most active volcano in the world on Big Island. The islands radiate a unique flair and have enchanted us very quickly with the famous Aloha charm.
Route Hawaii 2015 Oahu: Hawaii – Things to know, Photo spots & Travel Guide for a holiday (USA)
Oahu: Honolulu & Waikiki Beach – Our arrival in Hawaii (USA)
Oahu: Oahu – Pearl Harbor & Downtown Honolulu Memorial (USA)
Oahu: Oahu – Diamond Head & an island tour on Oahu (USA)
Kauai: Kauai – Our flight to Lihue, car rental & our hotel (USA)
Kauai: Waimea Canyon – The Grand Canyon of the Pacific on Kauai (USA)
Kauai: Kauai – An Island Tour & The Spouting Horn Beach Park (USA)
Kauai: Kauai – A catamaran tour along the Napali Coast (USA)
Kauai: Kauai – A sightseeing flight over Waimea Canyon & the Napali Coast (USA)
Maui: Maui – Our flight to Kahului & the Maui Ocean Center (USA)
Maui: Maui – Diving & exploring the West Coast (USA)
Maui: Maui – A drive along the panoramic “Road to Hana” (USA)
Big Island: Big Island – Volcano sightseeing tour in Volcanoes National Park (USA)
Big Island: Big Island – An Island Tour & Night Diving with Mantas (USA)
Big Island: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – The Chain of Craters Road (USA)
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