From Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
The Management of University of Benin Teaching Hospital, UBTH says an average of N100 million revenue is lost yearly to patients who accessed its facility, but unable to pay their medical bills.
Prof. Darlington Obaseki, Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the hospital said this while fielding questions from Journalists at the end of the year’s party and award of prizes to deserving staff at the weekend in Benin City.
He said, “Every year, we (UBTH) waived close to N100m for patients that can’t pay their medical bills. Last year (2020), we had almost 400 patients in that category. As we speak now, we have a lot of them in that in our Wards. But, we try to assist.
“The problem is knowing those patients with genuine financial needs. Some persons pretend that they can’t pay for their medical bills even when they have.
“We have a Medical Social Service who go and meet relatives of sick people for support. Sometimes the patients relatives abroad will even called and send money to patients to upset the bills of their relatives, yet some of the patients will divert the money for something else and say that they do not have money.
“Our challenge is how to prevent abuse. How do we identify those who can afford their medical bills, yet pretend that they cannot afford the payment of their medical bills. Like I said, we waived N100m for them. Where is that money coming from? N100m of services rendered to patients were not paid for. I do not know the number yet for this year.
“The economy is bad. You cannot provide quality care without paying for it. We have increased the quality of our services so much now, and we are spending money. If a patient comes to us and say that he requires a medical service. What about those who does not have the money to pay for the service? Yes, we can help, but who pays for the next patients and the consumables we use to treat you. If we do not replenish the consumables, what it means is that the next patient will not have to use.
“We know that the economy is very hard. We are aware, yet, we have not increased prizes including the cost of food for patients. We are not breaking even. Our prizes are still the lowest in this Country.
“But Nigerians need to be aware of this. Those who are unable to pay their medical bills are not just poor people. You may be wealthy. But if something that you are not prepared for happen to you, then, you may need millions”, according to Obaseki.
He also described as an abuse of waiver by some patients who cannot pick up their bills after treatment as a huge challenge to the management of the hospital.
Prof Obaseki demanded for a radical shifts in Nigeria’s Health Insurance policy and appealed to well placed individuals in Nigeria, groups to intervene towards reversing the awful and unsuitable gesture.
Speaking on the essence of the occasion, the CMD of UBTH, said the management had identify those Staff that have gone beyond the call of duty to help the hospital, help humanity and patients.
“It is not about the quantum of money we given to them that matters, but the recognition that spur other Staff to work”, he said.
He also spoke on the strategic plans that have been out in place by the management of UBTH in 2022 and key reforms the hospital has recorded his watch.
He maintained that his vision is to make UBTH a leading health sector in Africa