KUWAIT: The Kuwait Human Rights Society (KHRS) called on the health ministry to reconsider its decision to hike health services fees for expatriates, as the society found that inability to pay the new charges has forced many expats to discontinue treatment. KHRS asked the ministry to avoid hitting expat pockets, and described Oct 1, the day the increase fees came into effect, as a day of tragedy.
The society said in a report published by Al-Rai yesterday that the fee increases have led to a decrease in patient visits by 30 percent, and the reasons for this are clear – which is the inability of patients to follow up their conditions due to financial reasons. It said regardless of the positive effects of this reduction the ministry thinks it has achieved, for every action there is a reaction, as reports on social media spoke about the death of an expat of a heart attack after he left the hospital under his own cognizance but was rushed back the next day, to no avail. KHRS said this shows that the increased charges have made expats ignore their health conditions, which can result in a health catastrophe and humanitarian tragedies in this ‘humanitarian center’.
The report said the health ministry has excluded some categories from the new fees, in addition to domestic helpers, adding that the exemption of some groups that are beneficiaries of health insurance is under consideration, in addition to including other groups and diseases. KHRS believes these measures are not in favor of the ministry and proves the fee increase was not made after a thorough study.
It said as for excluding domestic helpers, there are workers at security and cleaning companies whose salaries are below KD 100 – in many cases KD 60 – and the society believes they cannot get health services if they needed them, and it is expected that they will not go to health centers for anything more than examinations or diagnoses, since these are workers with low salaries who have to pay for their children’s education and rent.
The report said the society hopes the decision be cancelled, as it is not fair for expats to pay health insurance and also fees for health services, as this is considered double punishment that targets those who come to Kuwait under the sponsorship system. The report spoke about cases of expats who said they were victims of medical errors that caused them to continue their visits to hospitals, which constitutes an extra burden under the new fees, although they are victims of medical malpractices.
The report spoke about the case of a worker who suffered from back pain, so he went to the hospital and was asked to pay KD 10. Doctors then decided that he needed surgery. When he went to have the surgery done, he was asked to pay KD 50 as deposit and KD 10 for every day he stays in the hospital, besides KD 2 for x-rays and KD 2 for laboratory tests. The expat said he could not pay these expenses as he was a laborer with a salary of KD 200, with a family and children in school.