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Anton Dekker
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The price of pain!

14 June 2013, 14:20

So, here is a new South African conundrum! 

You religiously pay your very expensive monthly medical aid contributions to ensure decent medical care when you need it! You medical scheme is top of the heap and covers everything! Suddenly you need urgent medical care! You rush off to the nearest private hospital, because you have this incredibly expensive medical aid membership card in your pocket! You even make sure the hospital is one of the “preferred” service providers listed with your expensive medical aid scheme!

 At the hospital there friendly staff directs you to the emergency room! Everything is clean and nice and efficient, and you are duly impressed. A sweet and friendly lady in the emergency room hands you a pile of documents to sign. And then the shock! She also ask you for a deposit of anything between R500 to R3000, advising you, oh so sweetly, that they do except credit cards! What?

"I have medical aid!"

"Yes sir, I've noted that, but we are contracted out!"

"The hospital is a preferred service provider to my medical aid, it cannot be contracted out?"

"No sir, the “Emergency Room” is a private practice and contracted out, we are a cash only practice!"

"That is why I have a medical aid, to pay when I need emergency medical care! Besides that, I do not have enough money to pay that ridiculous deposit!"

"Then sir, I cannot help you, and you cannot see a doctor!" and with that she takes her pile of documents back, throw them in a bin, and carry on with other work, completely ignoring the fact that you are still standing there with a look of shock, horror and amazement on your face! The well trained “PR” smiley face is now gone! No more sweet friendly helpful lady, just one that stand there judging you as not worthy to occupy any space in her reception area!

I later learned a someone like me is popularly referred to in medical circles as a “Ghomer” – “Get Him Out of My Emergency Room!”

Be warned, that is not the only “private practice” at your preferred service provider hospital! The X-ray department is a private practice! The pathology laboratory is a private practice? The pharmacy is a private practice? Etcetera, etcetera! In fact I have absolutely no clue what is covered by the expensive “top of the range” all inclusive medical aid and its preferred service provider agreement with the hospital! It seems absolutely nothing! Sorry, that is a bit much, I didn't pay to use the toilet while I was there!

What is going on here? How blatantly greedy and immoral is this? How can the private hospitals get away with that? This cash grabbing and fleecing of the innocent and unsuspecting might not be against the current laws, but it should be, and it is most definitely against every bit of human decency and morality!

This should be illegal!

No “contacted out private practice” should be allowed to operate from any hospital premises!

No hospital should be allowed to “contract out” any part of their essential services!

No hospital should be allowed to have a “preferred” service provider agreement with a medical aid, if the medical aid covers absolutely none of the services in that hospital, except maybe the toilet facilities!

No medical aid should be allowed to sell “comprehensive”, all inclusive medical cover, when they know for a fact, that is a blatant misrepresentation! Have you ever tried to talk to anyone at your medical aid about this? They’ll make you out as the biggest idiot, guaranteed!

Where are the doctors that are in medicine to elevate pain, and not just to make a fortune as quick as possible? Where are the private hospitals that serve the people, and not just blatant greedy cash generating entities for rich arseholes sitting somewhere in a boardroom?

These same multi-millionaire private hospital operators were screaming blue murder when the government started making noises towards regulating the private health industry in South Africa. I wonder why? Isn't it obvious that we, as basic consumers, are handed over to the most evil greedy operators and some of the most immoral people that ever walked this earth?

Private medical services should be regulated! Private medical care’s insanely greedy practices and ridiculous prices, for basic medical services, should be curtailed!

Above all, no one operating in the field of ‘Emergency Medical Care’ should be allowed to be blatant money grabbing, immoral greedy, cold blooded self-enriching scrooges, at the cost of anyone in pain!

What happened top basic human decency?

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