Abu Dhabi, UAE: Families of 27 patients who are receiving long-term care at a rehabilitation centre in the capital have asked to be exempted from having to pay 20 per cent of healthcare costs.
Hundreds more have voiced their reservations to the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (Haad) about an insurance rule that took effect last month.
Sheikha Abdulla said Emirati families would gladly trade free services and entitlements for free healthcare. “They can take away all the free services they offer the disabled – education, parking and play areas. I don’t want any of it. Just give me free health care,” said Ms Abdulla, whose son, Hamad Al Romaithi, has been receiving care at ProVita International Medical Centre for the past four years.
Seven-year-old Hamad suffers from Patau syndrome, a rare chromosomal condition. He is fully dependent on machines for sustenance and breathing.
Under the new insurance rule, Ms Abdulla faces a bill of about Dh50,000 per month.
“Neither me nor his father can pay this amount. Nobody can afford this money. I will have to be paying Dh50,000 for the rest of Hamad’s life,” she said.
Ms Abdulla said a government hospital had referred Hamad to ProVita for his healthcare needs.
“He was a body. He didn’t move or make any expressions,” she said, adding that now he was smiling and moving. Last month, Hamad went on a trip to the beach.
“Will they do this [for him] at a government hospital?” Ms Abdulla asked.
Aysha Owda, whose two-year-old daughter Ghadeer is receiving care at ProVita, said news of the payment rule was a shock.
She has filed several requests for an exemption.
“There is nothing else we can do,” she said.
Alanood Hamed was told by staff at a government hospital that there were no available beds for her seven-year-old daughter, Moza Saeed.
“I was referred here by a government hospital, where my daughter lay in an ICU for four months.”
Moza suffers from a genetic disease and has been at ProVita for the past five years. She graduated from KG1 last week. Teachers gave her lessons using a computer.
“I have a report from SKMC that says that my daughter needs treatment in a specialised setting. She can’t be cared for at home or in a hospital.”
ProVita, said Ms Hamed, is her daughter’s home.
“When they moved my daughter to another room because they were fixing the AC, her heart rate went up and she was stressed out. I can’t take her anywhere else. She’s comfortable here and is happy.”
Mrs Hamed said she cannot afford the 20 per cent co-pay fees.
“My husband earns Dh20,000 per month. I don’t mind selling everything to keep my daughter here but it still won’t be enough,” she said.
So far rehabilitation centres have not asked for payments from patients or their families.Aysha Saeed, whose 35-year-old son Mohammed Al Nuaimi is receiving care at ProVita, believed a solution would be found.
“Our Government will not throw us out. These are their children before they are our children,” she said.
An Al Ain government hospital referred Mr Al Nuaimi to ProVita after a car accident fractured his spinal cord and caused brain damage.
“His father earns Dh10,000 and is retired. We have four other children. There is no way we can pay,” said Ms Saeed.
“The Government will not throw their children out. They took care of them from the beginning and they will continue to take care of them.”
Ms Saeed will have to pay Dh1,500 per day for Mohammed’s healthcare costs if she is not given an exemption.
© The NationalAug 2016