The Amrita Institute of Technology Hospital in Kochi, India has not suspended Aasandha health care services despite reports in local media to the contrary, the scheme’s managing director has stated.
Local media reported yesterday (January 28) that services offered under the universal health care scheme Aasandha had been suspended due to unpaid bills for treatment provided to Maldivians by Amrita hospital.
However, Aasandha Managing Director Mohamed Niyaz told Minivan News today that services had not been suspended. Niyaz said that Aasandha was instead having to control patient admittance to keep in line with the credit limit recently imposed by the hospital.
“Because of the large number of patients who went to receive treatment at the hospital in December last year and delays in paying those bills, Amrita hospital put a credit limit on the treatment they can offer that is paid for by Aasandha,” he explained.
“We are now controlling the number of patients we are admitting to the hospital in order for Aasandha to not go over the imposed credit limit,” Niyaz said.
An official from Amrita hospital told Minivan News that while it is still treating patients who are covered by Aasandha, there had been a period of four days earlier this month where it stopped admitting patients due to unpaid bills.
“There is a total of 7 million rupees (US$ 130,536) outstanding in payment to be made by Aasandha through Hospital Professional Liability (HPL) insurance, who we deal with.
“We ceased treating outpatients covered by Aasandha for four days, but HPL then paid part of the bill and so we resumed our services,” the hospital official told Minivan News.
The credit cap imposed on Aasandha by Amrita hospital was introduced to match a similar credit cap applied to all other health insurance companies who work with the hospital, the hospital official said.
“Originally we had a special agreement with Aasandha whereby they had no credit cap on the treatment we could provide. However our Financial Controller has now introduced it because it is the same as other insurance companies we deal with,” the hospital official added.
“Even now Aasandha’s credit cap is a lot higher than the other insurance companies. We have a great relationship with the Maldives and we treat our Maldivian patients as our own.”
According to Niyaz, patient treatment is currently being prioritised on a case-by-case basis in order for the service they are receiving to not be “compromised”.
In regard to bill payment, Niyaz claimed there had been a number of factors as to why the money had not been paid to Amrita hospital.
“It takes two to four weeks for the treatment bills to come through after a patient has been discharged from the hospital and then we have to pay for the treatment in US dollars,” he said.
“It takes a further two weeks for us to secure the dollars as we have to buy at a bank rate. We are trying to find ways to work around this problem at the moment.”
During December – a “peak” period for Maldivians wishing to seek medical treatment -Niyaz said there had been some issues receiving money from the Finance Ministry in order to pay the bills.
Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad was not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.
Niyaz revealed that Aasandha had experienced similar issues at a hospital in Colombo and three other hospitals in India, but that these have all been resolved.
Free health care of up to MVR 100,000 (US$ 6,476) was initially available to citizens under Aasandha. Changes to the system were made by the government in August last year, after concerns the scheme would run out of money.