Volume 99, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Uninsured and unprepared travelers to countries with endemic tropical diseases pose great health-care burdens and financial risks on returning to the United States. We discuss the delayed presentation of an uninsured U.S. traveler returning from West Africa with severe malaria who required intensive care measures to save his life. Despite being critically ill on his return, he sat rigoring on his couch taking antipyretics for 3 days, while he applied for insurance on the Affordable Care Act website and waited for approval because he was fearful of the costs of seeking care. He also had limited access to affordable pretravel consultation and prophylactic medications and did not take them because he had no insurance. Average fees for a malaria hospitalization cost $25,789; however, this patient accumulated fees nearing $300,000—and his care was reimbursed by emergency Medicaid with $39,000, because his newly accepted insurance did not cover his hospitalization. This patients’ experience in the U.S. health-care system with a deadly tropical disease exemplifies the need for affordable universal coverage of pretravel consultation and malaria prophylaxis. In this uncertain political time and the recent removal of the health insurance mandate, along with the White House and Congress wanting to reform health care, this case supports the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) statements showing the need for funding of tropical medicine education, research, and public health services for travelers, not cuts to important agencies and insurances that keep our country safe from imported deadly tropical diseases.


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  • Received : 07 Jan 2018
  • Accepted : 02 Apr 2018
  • Published online : 14 May 2018
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