I sympathise with the Moore family when they discovered the limitations in private health insurance at the time of their baby daughter's premature birth (Viewpoint 23 November). In her case the private hospital was unequipped to deal with her condition – fortunately our national health service was more than capable. Despite the substantial insurance payments demanded their failings, which the Moores´ met at the start of their baby's life, were serious. More serious, more numerous and much more frequent are those to be met towards the end of one's life. Shockingly these failings are largely based on financial constraints not medical.

Back in December the Duke of Edinburgh had a nasty shock when he was helicoptered to the Papworth for urgent heart surgery.
I believe they operated on him and inserted a stent which is a mechanism which forces open the vein and allows the blood to flow normally.
Around the same time a close friend had this same shock but then got another when he got the bill - 10000€ for 5 stents to be inserted in an operation under local aesthetic lasting just an hour or so. When he first got the pain he took off for the private hospital as he had (he thought) full insurance cover. In retrospect he too would have been better going to San Llatzer where he would have got as good treatment, as rapidly and as comfortably but for free.

It set me thinking what other hidden charges are out there. I started asking around especially for common illnesses that come with age. Cataracts also do not get the treatment you may expect. In the private sector each eye will cost between 600€ and 1150€ depending if the patient opts for a mono or multi lens. As the disease takes hold sight becomes increasingly poor. The operation becomes a necessity not an option. I asked an Eye Specialist how they could justify not including the full treatment as a basic illness. He replied that the removal of the cataract IS included in their service – JUST not the insertion of the lenses. I put it to him that JUST removing the cataract would JUST leave the patient blind and JUST put the operation outside his hippocratic oath.

Mike Lillico
Playa de Palma

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