As Covid-19 cases continue to surge, one group of people facing the brunt are the workers.
Not just because of the cost of treatment but also because of the admission fees in hospitals. The admission fees have to be paid in advance in most private hospitals, and the fees vary from RO 200, RO 500, and RO 1000 up to RO 2000.
As for the hospitals, the advance admission fees come as a safety measure to avoid unpaid medical bills, which were cases with many patients in the past because some were unable to bear the treatment cost.
Covid-19 treatment is expensive if a medical case gets complicated, moving quickly from the breathing discomfort to oxygen support to ventilator and other interventions if needed.
In many cases, there are incidents of heart failure or impact on other organs.
All this points out the theory of ‘prevention is better than cure’, but the theories remain theories if something comes already as a consequence.
Maybe awareness needs to go to all segments of the society, but in the case of one worker who is employed as a porter in Muttrah, the initial visit and medication cost him is RO 80. For admission, social workers intervened and tackled the situation for him. Social workers feel there might be many more that are shying away from seeking medical help due to the charges.
Social worker, P M Jabir, said, “It has become one of the major problems for the expatriate workers, especially amongst the people involved in menial work...The porter in Muttrah had his brother in law who is a tailor to support him.
There have been many requests for help due to Covid-19. The situation is difficult in the interior areas as there are not enough private hospitals.”
The majority of the workers do not have insurance, said Jabir, “Insurance is expensive for them. Most of them, about 90 per cent of people we have come across, do not have insurance. Many insurance companies have an exclusion in their policies when it comes to coverage of pandemics. That can be covered but it requires extra premium.”
The government hospitals do take emergency cases, but with referrals from the doctors of private sector hospitals as in the case of the field hospital, which also needs a referral from a private-sector doctor.
“In healthcare maintaining the balance of managing the hospital and treating patients is difficult and in the case of Covid-19 treatments are expensive from medication to ventilator and services that might be required,” said a doctor.