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‘Save poor patients’ from rogue hospitals

The Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) has asked Parliament to address rampant cases of fraudulent medical billing and detention of patients in hospitals.

Cofek named, among others, hidden costs, insurance fraud and revenue targets as reasons that persuade rogue hospital managers to detain patients who fail to pay or their bodies when they succumb to illnesses.

The federation secretary general Stephen Mutoro decried that different hospitals have different billing systems, which the rogues manipulate to fleece patients.

Addressing the National Assembly Health Committee chaired by Murang’a Woman Representative Sabina Chege, Mutoro added that some hospitals have made billings non-negotiable.

“Some hospitals bill patients depending on perceived socio-economic status of relatives,” said Mutoro.

He regretted that hospitals are holding automobile log-books and title deeds for families who fail to pay the inflated bills, adding that some hospitals admit patients whose conditions don’t warrant admissions because of “greed for quick cash”.

Cofek petitioned Parliament to act after MP Shah Hospital billed a patient, Matilda Onyango, Sh860,000 despite only being in the hospital for less than 12 hours. She succumbed to her injuries.

However, the hospital waived the bill and allowed the family to collect the body of Matilda after public outcry on the exorbitant medical fees levied against the patient.

Mutoro also called for the disbandment of the Public Complaints Committee under Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board because “it has failed its mandate to protect healthcare consumers”.

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