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Hefty bill for accident victim revives healthcare debate

A young man injured in a motorbike crash was billed MVR350,000 (US$22,700) by the private Tree Top hospital.



Fundraising appeals from the family of an accident victim to help settle an MVR350,000 (US$22,700) hospital bill have revived debates about healthcare in the Maldives.

Mohamed Nizam, 22, underwent multiple surgeries at the private Tree Top Hospital for severe facial injuries sustained in a motorcycle crash on June 1.

He was initially taken to the public hospital in Hulhumalé but was transferred to Tree Top because a CT scan was unavailable. The family decided against taking Nizam to a Malé hospital due to the severity of his injuries.

“He was still bleeding from the nose. Next they suggested we take him to Tree Top if we wanted. We knew it would be expensive, but we had to make that decision to save his life,” a family member told Mihaaru

The state health insurance Aasandha only covered MVR18,000 and the family managed to raise more than two-thirds of the total bill. The hospital offers a 30 percent discount for locals. 

“Now we need MVR110,000 more. Every extra day costs MVR1,800. Help us,” the family member appealed.

After a photo of the bill was widely shared online along with media reports, a brother of the patient told the pro-government Sun Online on Sunday that the family was very happy with Tree Top’s services.

The hospital kept the family informed of the accruing charges, he said.

The accident occurred in the restricted second phase landmass of Hulhumalé, a reclaimed island under development as an urban centre. Nizam lost control of his speeding motorbike and crashed into a steel roadblock, according to reports.

Tree Top Hospital – owned by Tree Top Investments, a partnership of tourism magnates – responded to the Maldives Independent on Tuesday.

It said it did not comment on matters relating to guests.

“We value each and every guest who seek treatment at the hospital, and shall treat them courteously, with due respect and dignity at all times, including at the time of admission as well as discharge,” said the head of external relations, marketing, Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed.

“We believe the best spokespersons for our services, are the guests who avail themselves of the hospital’s services.

“At the time of its opening, Tree Top Hospital announced publicly that it will extend a 30% discount on all its services to Maldivians and a 20% discount to expatriates,” he wrote in the email.

The billing controversy has renewed concern about the affordability of private healthcare in the Maldives.

Earlier this month, the state-run Hulhumalé hospital came under fire after staff were accused of delaying treatment for a 24-year-old victim of a fatal accident.

This article has been updated with a comment from Tree Top Hospital.