Many new mothers detained over inability to pay medical bills in Koforidua

Many new mothers have been detained at the Eastern Regional Hospital in Koforidua for their inability to pay their medical bills.

Most of the new mothers went through caesarean sections, while others had their babies admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, services which have become very expensive in recent times.

The new mothers who claim they are over 20 say their medical bills range between GH¢4,000 to GH¢1,000.

Speaking to the media, some of the new mothers said they lost their babies, yet the hospital has presented huge medical bills for them to pay.

Some of the detained new mothers narrated that “We were referred from Begoro to this place. My children were twins; they put them in machine (incubator); they say one is dead, yet they have not shown that dead baby to me because they say I have not paid my bills. What to eat is even a problem [she cried]. They said I should pay GH¢4,200.”

Another said, “I have been discharged, but I have not been able to pay my bills, so still detained. There was blood from my baby’s mouth and nose. They gave the baby blood and oxygen, but the baby died. They have, however, given me a bill of GH¢1,200 to pay. I have Health Insurance, but it doesn’t work. I came from Begoro. I am now stranded”.

“My bill given to me is also GH¢1,000; they gave my baby oxygen. I came from Kyebi, I am stranded,” another stranded new mother narrated.

Lastly, a new mother from Suhum also added, “For me, it is my bill that I am unable to pay. I have been detained. I have paid some but left with GHC1,000. I came from Suhum. I don’t have anyone to help me.”

The economic hardship being experienced in Ghana has impoverished many lower-class people. This has resulted in many of such people struggling to meet basic life necessities such as payment of medical bills.

Their plights have been worsened by the dysfunction of the National Health Insurance Scheme due to the failure of the authority to reimburse health service providers.

The situation is fueling high cases of nonpayment of medical bills, revenue losses due to abscondment at many hospitals.

The Eastern Regional Hospital, for instance, continues to make huge revenue losses to absconders every year.

The hospital, for instance, lost GH¢103,476 from about 75 patients who absconded after inability to pay their medical bills in 2022.

In 2017 and 2018, losses made to patients who either absconded or could not pay their medical bills due to poverty amounted to almost GH¢350,000

According to the hospital, “In 2018, about 20 patients sneaked out of their sick beds and absconded with total medical bills of GH¢11,080 while in 2017, 52 patients also absconded at the blind side of the Hospital Authorities with total medical bills of GH¢23,000.”

Management of the hospital has instituted social welfare services for the poor and vulnerable who genuinely cannot pay their bills to sign an undertaking for payment in instalments.

In 2018, the hospital wrote off medical debt of 13 patients identified to be paupers to the tune of GH¢19,000 after the Department of Social Welfare had done background checks to establish their financial status.

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