Abu Dhabi: Fourteen private hospitals have discussed a possible 40 per cent increase in medical prices by April 1, but health insurance companies feel the figure is too high and are debating the issue.

There are 19 private hospitals in Abu Dhabi, 14 of which are part of the Hospital Private Committee (HPC) which frequently meets to discuss issues.

Healthcare in Abu Dhabi falls under the purview of the Health Authority-Abu Dhabi.

"The cost of medical services and salaries of doctors have gone up. To have a qualified doctor and ... good medical services we have to increase salaries. We always had good doctors but cost of living was less. Now we don't have enough licensed doctors and there is a higher demand. We have around 12 or 13 reasons why we have requested a 40 per cent increase," said Tony Al Achkar, general manager of Lifeline hospital which is a part of HPC.

He said there is no standard pricing at the hospitals. The average cost of a general check-up in a private hospital is Dh40 and could go up to Dh60 with the proposed increase.

Dr Azzam Ellazkni, Medical Services and Marketing Manager, Al Noor Hospital that is also a part of HPC, told Gulf News 40 per cent is not too high, and said private hospitals should have asked for a higher raise.

"The rent rate has reached 100 per cent and consumables have reached 50 per cent, not to mention the raise in salaries. I have been requesting insurance companies for an increase for ages. This is not the first time we have raised the issue. How are we supposed to offer quality services and keep up with cost of living if we do not take action and increase our own pricing?"

Gulam Mohammad Teli, Technical Division, Daman, said a meeting in the Chamber of Commerce was recently held by these hospitals about the increase. "We have not accepted the request yet. Forty per cent is not acceptable for me or you as a member of society.

"There is an inflation rate, so you go by general inflation which is around eight per cent. We have our yearly contracts with hospitals and they cannot change their prices before the end of the year anyway," said Teli.

Dr Mohammad Ajami, network director for Daman, also felt 40 per cent is an exaggeration.

"The increase will be reflected on the economy and the end-player, who is the patient. I am not with this request. I know we have inflation problems and I agree to adjusting prices but not 40 per cent."

Khalid Al Azhari, assistant manager Life and Medical Department, Abu Dhabi National Insurance, said: "I believe ... [it] is [a] short notice and that 40 per cent is way too high."

Al Azhari felt that the quality of medical services in private hospitals are still the same and raising the prices by 40 per cent will change health insurance terms and conditions.

"Insurance companies should also respond by increasing their rates to comply with the new request received by the private hospitals. All insurance companies will end up raising their premium quota to new accounts by a minimum of 15 per cent," said Al Azhari.

Your comments

Surprise, surprise, this was inevitable once health care was privatised and insurance made compulsory. The irritation is exacerbated by the misconception that the majority of workers in this country have received salary increases. I have not received an increase in the two years I have been here and nor have 80% of my colleagues. Therefore I wish the news media would stop perpetuating inaccurate information such as this (that all government employees have received salary increases).
Abu Dhabi,UAE
Posted: February 28, 2008, 13:24