Sun | Sep 23, 2018

What about emergency hospital care?

Published:Saturday | March 19, 2016 | 12:00 AM

What about emergency hospital care?

My August 2015 vacation started well, but ended on a bad note. Getting sick while on vacation is something we never anticipate, but you would think that at least if you get sick at home, you would be covered. This is not what happened to me.

I got sick in my home country, Jamaica, but while at my lowest, I was not only taken advantage of by an ambulance service, but I was able to witness the cold treatment faced by many who either end up in a hospital - in my case at MoBay Hope Hospital - alone or with no immediate way to pay for the bill. Where is the emergency care?

I gave my US insurance information, and instead of asking my provider what I would be covered for, the hospital went and asked if my insurance provider would be a guarantor for my stay in the hospital.

I waited and waited for someone to give me some painkillers and take my vitals. It was not until after I handed my credit card to them that my vitals were taken, blood drawn, antibiotics and painkillers given. Amazing what a little plastic can do!

After all tests were done, they could not find anything wrong, the doctor discharged me, and I was given clearance to travel back to the USA. Two days after my arrival, I was back in the ER, this time in the USA, and had surgery the same week.

I'm thankful in a way that I did not have surgery at the hospital in Jamaica, as I suspect that, first of all, they would not have done it unless I approved payment to them, and at their rate for just a few hours, I would not have been able to afford a lifesaving procedure.

Why are hospitals in Jamaica not prepared to process insurance payments from the USA? Why is the Ministry of Tourism calling for tourists to come and visit Jamaica if it will not be able to assist tourists, as well as Jamaicans living abroad?

It seems to me that the health industry is in shambles and protocols need to be put in place to assist anyone who has a health emergency, be it a local or someone visiting. I am hoping that protocols will be put in place so that what happened to me will not happen to someone else.