The minister of health issued a new decision to increase maternity charges for expatriate women registered in the health insurance system. The decree stipulated that non-Kuwaiti patients enrolled in the health insurance system will pay a fee of KD 100 for normal delivery, an increase of 100 percent compared to the previous fee of KD 50, as well as an increase in caesarean-section fees to KD 150.
The decision to increase birth charges for expatriates came after a study of health service costs of medical personnel and equipment, and the vast difference in maternity charges between the public and private sectors. The fees for natural or Caesarean delivery include birth and sonar examination and laboratory tests and medicines other than hospital stay, unlike what was previously in place, where hospital stay charges were included in the KD 50 collected for births.
The duration of the stay according to the previous decision was three nights, and the patient paid KD 10 for each extra day in regular wards and KD 50 in private rooms. The new decision increased the fees for private rooms to KD 100 per day, an increase of 100 percent.
Every expatriate is obliged to have health insurance. And not every citizen has excellent health insurance that allows them to go to any private hospital for treatment. So they will need to consult government hospitals regardless of whether they are expatriates or citizens. I believe health services in Kuwait are not up to the required level, not because of the large number of patients – whether expatriates or citizens – but because of a lack of beds and equipment.
A friend told me her son fell at school on his back and was taken to a government hospital. There he was treated in the corridor because all the observation rooms were full of sick and injured people. He stayed for several hours in the corridor until they found a vacant bed to transfer him! I think it is shameful that we as a rich country like Kuwait find people complaining about poor health services such as a lack of beds and medical care.
I know that the ministry of health is now trying to increase fees, perhaps because it believes that raising prices will contribute to reducing the number of patients, which is a work mechanism that must be reviewed periodically to ensure its success and that health insurance companies must have a role in this process. The insurance an expatriate pays should be commensurate with the costs paid, the required treatments, the age of the expatriate and whether they suffer from chronic diseases. These are key elements that must be considered when fees go up.
By Muna Al-Fuzai