Pattaya Daily News

20 January 2011 :: 11:01:18 am 49095

Hospitals count cost of foreigners’ bills

State hospitals in the southern province are shouldering a heavy burden for treating elderly foreigners who cannot afford to pay their medical bills.
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Many retired foreigners who came to Thailand with the hope of settling down here are now struggling after spending their pensions wastefully and marrying Thai women, some of whom left them after their money ran out. Lots of foreigners have fallen ill and been admitted to local hospitals. Their relatives back home refuse to pay for their treatment on being contacted by the embassy, Vachira Phuket Hospital’s public relations centre said.

The embassies regard the matter as personal. They will provide help to their nationals only in cases of emergency or disaster. “So we’ve treated these patients based on professional ethics until the last moments of their lives. Funeral rites and merit-making ceremonies are held for them,” a source at the centre said.

The state-run Vachira Phuket Hospital admitted a record 377 foreign patients, mostly Britons, in the 12 months to Sept 30, 2010. There were also cases of foreigners who died outside of hospital but were brought in for autopsies. They died of causes ranging from road accidents to drowning and suicide. The hospital last year spent 1.3 million baht treating 17 penniless foreigners. It was the third consecutive year that the hospital had logged unpaid bills. The hospital bore costs of more than 1.2 million baht in 2009 for 22 foreign patients, a 50% rise from the 800,000 baht in costs to treat 17 patients in 2008, the centre said.

“These patients are mostly European men,” the source said. “They didn’t take out health insurance. They renew their visas every year and have no savings.” Some of them produced fake financial statements to have their visas renewed. Each foreign national seeking the renewal of his or her retirement visa must have at least 800,000 baht in their bank account or show they have earnings of at least 65,000 baht a month.

The source said foreigners’ savings often were quickly used up on entertainment and women. Some who wanted to build families in Phuket married Thai women who later took off with their money. In a lot of cases, the patients require long-term treatment for chronic illnesses such as alcoholism and liver and heart diseases. The source said the government should review its policy and focus on quality tourism. Stricter screening of visa applications was needed. Foreign residents must be required to have health insurance. The government should even set up a fund to help foreign patients with some of their financial costs, the source said.

Report by : Bangkok Post

Photo : Internet   Category : Thailand News

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