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Doctor’s verdict: Quality healthcare is an expensive affair


A medical bill has to be one of the most emotive documents one can be faced with. On one hand, the quest for good health understands no lack of money while on the other hand, the depth of one’s pockets understands not the ill health.

The painful truth is that health or the lack thereof spares not one’s pennies. Tonnes of questions arise as to what is charged, at how much and why? It is almost always like a moment of awakening.

The assumption is often that doctors overcharge clients just to make money and amass wealth at the expense of the patient. Quality health is an expensive venture world over. Nothing comes free. Even if free, like maternity care, someone has to pay for it. No doctor reports to work to fleece anyone, but to do the very best depending on the facility one is at. At the high end private hospitals, charges are expectedly quite high because of the perceived quality of healthcare one gets from there.

For the money one pays, one would expect the very best of service and care. In the event that the best radiological imaging that you need to get an accurate diagnosis is an Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan for example, the healthcare provider will not prescribe anything of a lesser quality because it is cheaper.

An MRI scan will obviously cost an arm and a leg, but will give your healthcare providers what they need to know to diagnose you at the soonest possible and work out a plan.

In the event that the provider does not prescribe this to you, then it would be injustice of the highest proportion as they would have denied you the highest quality of care that you can afford. This might even cost your life, or quality of life you would have otherwise enjoyed if in good health.

In the same breathe, imagine yourself in your remote village where the only available radiological imaging is an old dilapidated X-Ray machine whose images need the eye of a god to decipher.

And the same MRI that you need is alien in the village, and even if it were available, the cost would simply be prohibitive. You’ll end up not getting any X-Ray done because it is useless at that point and therefore not getting a diagnosis and proper healthcare. Here, there is nothing neither you nor your providers can do but pray for divine intervention.

The disparity in healthcare services in private and public facilities in Kenya is akin to day and night. It is almost a death sentence to fall ill if poor. Which most Kenyans are.

The middle class brandish private medical insurance cards that cannot even sustain emergency care in an ICU for example in private facilities.

The inevitable is digging in to one’s savings if any or resorting to fundraising to cover medical bills. Since ill health is often unforeseen, unless it is in the event of a chronic illness, better planning and preparation is not a luxury. A working public healthcare system would be the best way to guarantee Kenyans affordable healthcare, but what we are doing in this country to our public health is an open secret.

President Obama and the Affordable Care Act tried to have Americans’ health covered. It was no cheap fete. Doctors and other healthcare providers are not a cheap manpower to train, and are therefore not a cheap skillset to compensate.

Plus, of what value is one’s life? An improvement in public health sector is the only way to guarantee Kenyans good healthcare, and eliminate the culture of fundraising to cover healthcare bills.

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