Ex­pats re­act to new health fees

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL - By Nawara Fat­ta­hova

KUWAIT: The re­cent de­ci­sion by the Health Min­istry ap­prov­ing an in­crease in fees for health­care ser­vices in the pub­lic sec­tor for for­eign res­i­dents and vis­i­tors was shock­ing news for many ex­pats, who al­ready face dif­fi­cult liv­ing con­di­tions in the coun­try.

Mu­rad, 55, cau­tioned against the ef­fects of this de­ci­sion. “This will have a neg­a­tive im­pact on the coun­try, as fam­i­lies will leave Kuwait for their home coun­tries and only bach­e­lors will re­main here. The de­mog­ra­phy of the coun­try will be sim­i­lar to what it was in the 1960s or early 1990s,” he told Kuwait Times. “My salary hasn’t in­creased, while prices are ris­ing. Prices of com­modi­ties, rent and also fuel went up last year, and re­cently of elec­tric­ity as well. Now they want to in­crease health­care fees in the pub­lic sec­tor, which is re­ally ridicu­lous,” he fumed.

Mazen is also against such an in­crease, but ad­mits he has no con­trol over it. “Since we pay med­i­cal in­sur­ance, why should we pay ad­di­tional fees for health­care ser­vices? We are used to fac­ing tough sit­u­a­tions, op­pres­sion and deal­ing with dif­fi­cul­ties, as we have lost our home coun­try,” he noted.

Hani sug­gested chang­ing the health in­sur­ance sys­tem. “Since new fees will come into ef­fect, the an­nual health in­sur­ance of KD 50 should be op­tional in­stead of oblig­a­tory. Ev­ery­body should be free to choose ei­ther the old fees and pay­ing the oblig­a­tory in­sur­ance, or the new higher fees and not pay­ing any an­nual in­sur­ance. This is more ac­cept­able,” he stated.

The new fees are OK for Ab­dul­latif, but with con­di­tions. “If it’s a must for the health min­istry to in­crease the fees for med­i­cal ser­vices, so be it, pro­vided that th­ese ser­vices are im­proved and are of the best qual­ity that can be pre­sented. And hope­fully, squan­der­ing of funds will be elim­i­nated in all de­part­ments of the min­istry,” he said.

Huda said although this de­ci­sion is un­pleas­ant for her, it may bring some ben­e­fits. “When the fees will in­crease, many peo­ple who were go­ing to the hos­pi­tal for very mi­nor ailments will stop do­ing so, so the wait­ing time will be shorter,” she said.

Manal be­lieves this de­ci­sion is in fa­vor of the pri­vate sec­tor. “I don’t think th­ese new fees are fair, as they are sim­i­lar to fees in pri­vate clin­ics. Peo­ple go to pub­lic hos­pi­tals as they don’t have money and can’t af­ford it, so this de­ci­sion is op­pres­sive. This de­ci­sion is not against ex­pats to force them to leave, but to en­cour­age peo­ple to go to pri­vate hos­pi­tals. I won’t be af­fected by this de­ci­sion as I have in­sur­ance from my com­pany. But it will af­fect my mother, who al­ready has to wait in the queue for five hours, and she will even have to pay more,” she rued.

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