Abu Dhabi, UAE: Abu Dhabi and Al Ain’s long-term healthcare centres will take losses worth millions of dirhams for the sake of “moving on”, after the Government waived the co-pay system for their patients.
Families of about 400 Emiratis, and their long-term care staff, last week expressed relief and gratitude when patients at the three centres were declared exempt from the co-pay system introduced in July.
Under that system, they were asked to pay up to Dh60,000 a month but only a handful could afford it, said Dr Howard Podolsky, chief executive of Cambridge Medical and Rehabilitation Centre.
The medical centres refused to discharge their patients and say that even though the waiver is not retrospective, they will absorb losses of millions of dirhams rather than trying to recoup fees.
Patients were also told at the time that there were no available beds at government hospitals for their loved ones.
“The average was Dh18,000 to Dh20,000 a month for each patient. It was a very significant amount of money,” Dr Podolsky said
Sheikha Abdulla’s son Hamed, 8, suffers from a rare chromosomal abnormality called Patau syndrome and has been receiving care at ProVita International Medical Centre since 2011.
Ms Abdulla said that after the co-pay was introduced, she contacted government hospitals but was told there were no available beds. “Hamed was in no condition to go home and I was referred to ProVita from a government hospital.
“ProVita never once asked for the money nor did they change their behaviour or level of care. I was the one who was embarrassed to ask them for anything because I owed them a lot of money.”
Cambridge Medical Centre had to let go of 10 per cent of its staff.
“Our understanding from Haad and [national insurer] Daman is that the decision is not retroactive, so we did what we had to do according to our Daman contract,” Dr Podolsky said.
Every month we invoiced our patients and families. If at some point they will contribute, then great. If not, then we will continue to care for these patients but I don’t anticipate in any shape or form that we will undertake any further action to pursue these claims.
“We have asked them and they kindly said yes we can, or in most cases no we cannot – and that was it. We will not go beyond that at this point.”
Michael Davis, chief executive of ProVita, said that the announcement of the waiver, “gave such great relief to our patients and our families”.
“I always felt that the Government would come with some sort of solution,” Mr Davis said.
Al Anood Al Mazrouei, mother of eight-year-old Mouza Al Mansoori who has received care at ProVita for the past five years for spinal muscular atrophy, said she became “very depressed” when she was informed about the co-pay
“The money I had to pay every month was more than me and her father made every month,” said Ms Al Mazrouei, who had also tried to find a hospital bed.
She said that her daughter was thriving.
“My daughter now studies, which was her dream,” Ms Al Mazrouei said. “She understands, she’s smart and recognises everyone. At ProVita she goes on a trip every week. I didn’t know that this was possible.
“This looks like a good year. I knew our Sheikhs wouldn’t allow our children to suffer.”
She said ProVita did not once press her to pay.
“I think it’s better for us to move on,” Mr Davis said. “We are just going to look forward to the remainder of the year at this point. I certainly don’t want anyone encumbered by the financial burden placed on them on the second half of 2016.
“Our patients have many worries beyond financial worries so that aspect of that case is extremely comforting, and it’s comforting for us to know that they can focus on their own wellbeing and not worry about the financial aspect of their care,” Mr Davis said.
Clancey Francisco Po, chief executive of Burjeel Hospital said the waiver was a “welcome” and expected move by the Government and he hoped that dialysis patients would also be exempted from the co-pay.
There are 50 patients receiving dialysis at Burjeel, most of whom are Emiratis.
© The NationalJan 2017