Expats in Kuwait abandon public hospitals due to charges

Published:  11 Dec at 6 PM
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Public hospitals in Kuwait are experiencing an almost total dearth of expat patients due to recently introduced charges of at least KH10 per day.

A Kuwait Times report highlighted the formerly busy Sabah Hospital, giving the example of a single patient in an eight-patient ward who was packing to leave as he couldn’t afford the charges. Another local medical centre, Al Razi Hospital, seemed to be in the same situation. Expatriate staff at the emirate’s public hospitals might well be happy about the respite, but they’re far less than pleased about the fact they’re including in those who need to pay for treatment.

One expat male nurse working at Adan Hospital told reporters he didn’t see why he should pay KD10 for a single consultation, when he’s been working in the place for nine full years. It’s demoralising, he added. The newly-introduced fees for expat medical treatment apply to all expatriates including medical lab technicians, nurses, doctors, surgeons, specialists and pharmacists, with the initial KD 10 payment to see a doctor followed by added charges of KD 10 for every day as a patient. It’s an increase of 500 per cent on previous charges of just KD2.

A stay in intensive care is now charged at KD 30 per day, and a private room in the same hospital is KD50 per day plus a KD200 deposit and all basic charges are exclusive of fees for surgeries, x-rays and lab tests. Charges at Kuwait’s public maternity hospital are similar, and hospitals saw a 30 per cent drop in expat patients beginning just a few days after the new charges were publicised.

Unexpectedly, private facilities and insurance companies are in a windfall situation with a rush of patients and those buying private health insurance. Sources revealed several private hospitals were forced to update their premises and hire an increased number of staff in a hurry to accommodate the sudden increases in demand.

Companies providing health insurance are laughing all the way to the bank, but those who left public hospitals on grounds of price and cannot afford insurance are fearful of suffering from a total lack of medical care.
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