Expatriate patient billed $46,690 – Dr Bhagat

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Dr Mukesh Bhagat raises his concerns during the budget consultation at the Lautoka City Council chambers. Picture: FIJIAN GOVERNMENT

An expatriate who fell ill and was admitted at the Lautoka Hospital for two weeks was billed more than $46,000 by Aspen Medical.

While speaking at a national budget consultation in Lautoka this week, general practitioner Dr Mukesh Bhagat said he was shocked that the expatriate patient was billed $46,690.

“I was astonished that one of my expatriate patients who collapsed at home was rushed to A&E (Accident and Emergency) at the Lautoka Hospital was billed $46,690 for a 14-day stay in the Critical Care Unit,” he said.

“He lost all hope and is now in a dilemma as to how he is going to pay this amount having just arrived from India for work in Fiji with his family and he does not have private medical insurance.

“If this is the bill for non-Fiji residents who usually get double the local rate, I am at a loss as to how much a local will have to pay for treatment at Lautoka Hospital.”

Dr Bhagat also questioned if services were indeed free at the hospital which offered Government approved services.

“I fear that the cost itself will push patients to seek services at Nadi, Sigatoka, Tavua, Rakiraki or even CWM (Colonial War Memorial) Hospital from the Western Division if this exorbitant fees are charged by Aspen Medical.

“This is a grave disservice to the population in the west and we urge the people’s Government to right the wrong perpetuated to the Western Division which is the backbone of Fiji’s economy.”

In response, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Professor Biman Prasad said he would look into the exorbitant bill issue.

Dr Bhagat also raised concerns on the public private partnership GP scheme which was established by the FijiFirst Government.

“This was the FFP baby rolled out three years ago to outsource GOPD services to private practitioners with a budget of $3 million raising to $5 million the following year and last year reached it $12 million.

“The EOI was rushed.

“The Fiji Council of General Practitioners which represents all general practitioners bid was rejected outright by Ministry of Economy with a request for individual EOI within 24 hours. “We are still in the dark as what criteria was utilised to select the 16 clinics and GPs for the PPP scheme.”

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