Mexicans sell their houses, cars, and get into debt to take care of themselves. The high price of private medical care begins with the COVID-19 test.
MEXICO CITY (El Financiero) – A patient’s access to health care through COVID-19 is increasingly difficult in the public sector, and in the private sector, the costs are inaccessible.
The inevitable saturation in public clinics forces the population to seek unattainable options in private hospitals which, according to testimonies, have already forced families to sell houses, cars, and take out loans with family and friends.
Just applying a test to detect the virus makes a difference. It is free in a government institution, costs 1,250 pesos in Salud Digna hospitals, and up to 4,000 pesos in private hospitals, such as Médica Sur.
Although there are more options than in the states, in the country’s capital, hospitalization for a minimum of five days in hospitals of medium level, insurance companies offer a minimum of 350,000 pesos.
Based on estimates by the Mexican Association of Insurance Institutions (AMIS), high-level hospitals, which are only two, one in Mexico City and another in Interlomas, could double.
The average cost that AMIS estimates for the treatment of these patients is 435,000 pesos with major medical insurance and 222,000 pesos in cases with life insurance. It clarifies that it also attends to 163 ambulatory cases, with an average cost of 14,449 pesos.
The Association specifies that if the patient is already severe or critical, requiring care in intensive care units, the cost rises to an average of 920,000 pesos if the person needs even more attention, such as intubation, the fee increases to 947,000 pesos.
The costs vary and range from 25,000, 30,000, or 40,000 pesos per day in medium private level hospitals in Mexico City “if there is room.” Some ask an initial amount of 100,000 or 150,000 pesos, as a guarantee of payment for care, which in local entities can cost up to two million pesos, revealed testimonies of various cases in the country.
They indicate that, for example, in Chiapas, “to pay for one day’s hospitalization in a private sanatorium, a person who is sick with COVID-19 would have to spend one year and two months’ salary”. In Guadalajara, trying to save a family member can cost more than 800,000 pesos in a two-week stay.
According to a series of testimonies and cases presented by El Financiero, costs in tourist areas also stand out. In Cancun, due to the high prices, medical attention during the 14 days that the hospitalization can take, would cost between 840,000 to 2,100,000 pesos, so it is estimated that only people with a higher income could pay and recover from the epidemic in such private hospitals.
AMIS accepts that, due to the high costs of private services, more accessible financing schemes are being sought every day. Although the demand for health insurance has increased, there has been a significant drop in the insurance of other items, such as cars.
Up to 2 million pesos, the cost of 14 days of a hospital in Cancun
Cancun: From 12,500 pesos per assessment, which includes the test and medical checkup, to 150,000 pesos per day for all treatment and hospitalization, is what it costs to be treated for COVID-19 in a private clinic.
Due to the high costs, where the care during 14 days that can take the hospitalization would be paid between 840 thousand and two million pesos, a citizen with average income could not afford to be treated in those clinics.
In Cancun, only in Amerimed, Hospiten, Playa Med, and Clínica Victoria, which together manage around 300 beds, receive patients with this virus. Others, such as Quirúrgica del Sur, Galenia, Hospital Americano, Clínica Nazaret, Clínica Duarte, and Hospital San Gabriel, don’t have the equipment to care for something so specialized. There the patient has to pay in advance at least 50 percent of the expenses.
To receive medical care in Morelos, a deposit of $400,000 has to be made. In Cuernavaca, the amount for hospitalizing a patient with COVID-19 in a private clinic reaches 2.5 million pesos in a 20 to 25-day stay approximately. Before admission, a deposit of 400 thousand pesos must be made to receive the patient. Otherwise, care is denied.
In a review made by El Financiero in private hospitals, were found the prices of accounts up to 2’500,000 pesos, in cases such as the San Diego Hospital, located in the Vista Hermosa neighborhood of Morelos capital.
First, the family must deposit 400,000 pesos. This amount is mandatory even when there is medical insurance and is not reimbursable. The figure is also increasing as the days go by and based on the treatment needed by the patient, so daily, a deposit of approximately 100,000 pesos must be made. During the first days, the account must be covered at 80 percent.
Besides, insurance companies do not cover everything, only the treatment, explained the receptionist by phone. In the Henri Dunant clinic, located in Los Volcanes neighborhood, if the patient arrives at the emergency room, the family must deposit 15,000 pesos; if hospitalization is required, 80,000 pesos. The costs per day are from 35,000 to 50,000 pesos.
But if it gets complicated and has to be transferred to intensive care, the advance payment to be made is 100,000 pesos and, from then on, each day costs 50,000 to 80,000 pesos. The doctor’s fees are paid separately.
Karen Segura said that when her mother became ill, she took her to an ISSSTE clinic; however, the lack of medication to treat the coronavirus forced her to transfer her mother to a private hospital.
“At the beginning, we had to pay a deposit of 300 thousand pesos, because if you don’t pay, they don’t receive the patient, even if it’s serious. We spent a total of 700,000 pesos. My mother was in the hospital for 14 days, they did studies, and they also intubated her, we took her to the ISSSTE, but they told us that they did not have the antivirals that are being effective for COVID-19. We had to use all the family’s credit cards, and now we are about to sell our cars because we are still paying off the debt. My mother passed away on June 25,” he told El Financiero newspaper.
Looking at the socio-economic levels in Mexico, 57% of the country falls into what is known as the “middle class” with an average income of 12,000 pesos (545 USD)
– COVID-19 tests: From 1,250 pesos (57 USD) to 4,000 pesos (182 USD)
– Regular treatment without complications: 435 thousand pesos (20,000 USD)
– Treatment with insurance: 222 thousand pesos (10,000 USD)
– Patient in ICU: 920 thousand pesos (42,000 USD)
– Intubated patient: 947,000 pesos (43,000 USD)
– Ambulatory treatment: 14,449 pesos (680 USD)
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