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Friday, September 29, 2023

Merciless Mexican Hospitals – Insurance Hunters

By Imtiaz Gul

(Photo by Paul Brennan, Public Domain license)

We often crib about the expensive treatment at private hospitals in Pakistan. But their Mexican counterparts far outweigh them. Unbelievably expensive as well as callously unethical.
Can you imagine a Mexican hospital discharging a patient within 15 hours of a massive heart attack followed by a three-hour long angioplasty procedure just because he cannot afford the astronomical up to 15,000 US dollars a day expense at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU)? More so when the patient – already using a pacemaker – is in an extremely critical condition with totally dependent on life support – ventilator, catheter, temporary pacemaker and still recovering from the rigorous rescue plus angioplasty hours, including eight electric shocks he was given.
You don’t have to imagine. This is what happened to our patient at the private hospital – HOSPITEN – in Cancún, a Mexican city on the Yucatán Peninsula bordering the Caribbean Sea on June 16. Had it not been for luck, the hospital administration almost had our patient literally “abducted” without informing the family. They had called in an ambulance – without the knowledge of the family – for the transfer to a stinkingly messy public hospital. Fortunately, the patient’s daughter walked into the ICU just about the time the ambulance crew was getting ready to shift the patient to their stretcher.
Cancun is known for its beaches, numerous resorts, and nightlife in high-rise hotels, nightclubs, shops, and restaurants along the beachfront strip. It largely draws visitors from the USA and Canada. But it is also notorious for private hospitals such as HOSPITEN which boasts over a dozen branches in the Caribbean region. Equally abhorrible is the apparent nexus among big brand resort hotels, ambulance services and private hospitals.
The infrastructure of Hospiten itself and the facilities are very good but the cost is incredibly expensive. Why? Possible collusion with insurance companies.
We could figure out that the HOSPITEN preys on travel insurance of tourists; it seems to have primarily been designed to.
No surprise therefore that the invoice the hospital raised for nearly 18 hours of treatment went beyond a staggering 88,000 US dollars. That is why the administration staff repeatedly asked if the family had insurance other than the one that we offered them. They immediately booked $ 25,000 off the insurance policy, got a deposit of $ 9000, and asked if we could offer another insurance policy.
When told that the charges were scandalously high, they suggested transferring the patient to a general hospital “if you cannot afford treatment here. “
The chief doctor pretended innocence when we confronted him with the question as to how could he authorize the removal of an extremely critical patient within 18 hours of the painful procedures. It turned out to be a nightmare for the family to deal with the extortionist modus operandi of the hospital.
Private hospitals including the one mentioned above, it seems, cater only to foreigners in need and skim their travel insurance as quickly as possible by raising exorbitant claims. They assume every tourist to be carrying an insurance cover of tens of thousands and hence fleece them as much as they can. And obviously, it starts at the hotel you are staying in. The doctor and paramedics at the hotels essentially act as the agents for some of these private hospitals and thus begins the extortion.
Make sure you don’t fall sick when visiting Cancun. Otherwise, you will be at the mercy of prowling predators (private hospitals).

This article is being republished under an arrangement with Matrixmedia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of PakistanWeek.

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