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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The agonizing dilemma for uninsured patients: death or debt




Helliniko 10 May 2013
PRESS RELEASE
The agonizing dilemma for uninsured patients: death or debt

On 26 April 2013 a patient was admitted to the People’s Hospital of Athens.  He was uninsured and had a very low income.  The patient had been diagnosed at MCCH with an aneurism in the aorta of the abdomen (7.25 cm).  The doctors of our clinic insisted that he be admitted to the emergency hospital on duty in spite of the patient’s reservations because of his lack of insurance and his financial situation.  They insisted because of the impending danger that the aneurism would burst and be fatal.  Upon his entry into the hospital, it was considered that he was in URGENT need of an operation – which followed immediately.  We had informed, in writing, the directors of the hospital about the condition of the patient and asked whether he would be charged.  In answer to this, we received document number 5075/26-4-2013 which referred to K.Y.A 13949/05 (FEK B 1747/30-11-2006).  It stated that if the patient did not belong to that group, the patient could not be exempt of hospital expenses.  Because the hospital has still not given a clear answer as to whether the patient will be charged or whether the bill will be added to his tax debt (with the ensuing consequences of imprisonment, confiscation, etc), we have to publicly ask the direction the People’s Hospital the following:
A:  Is FEK B’ 1747/30-11-2006 still valid, even after all the memoranda that have been applied in the country?
B:  If it is valid, then according to its articles, a patient who is uninsured and with an income below 6,000€ is treated without being charged.  So why are you referring to charges for his treatment and of the need to inform the tax office of his “debt”?

C: If in the future we send other uninsured patients with serious problems, are you going to go by the same interpretation of the law and will you refer the expenses to the tax office?  If your answer is affirmative, we would like to share our experience at this Community Clinic and let you know that a lot of patients confronted by such a dilemma – death or debt – choose death rather than face a huge debt that they can never manage and therefore risk having to face imprisonment.
Finally, you mighty ladies and gentlemen who hold the reins, and the responsibility, of pubic hospitals in an increasingly impoverished society – to the point of choosing death over life - you people will have to select whether you’ll back Creon or Antigone.  And we remind you that, over the years, humanity has naturally opted for Antigone, and not Creon

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