When Lebanese People Cannot Afford Hospitals

Hospitals have a way of desensitizing you. They overwhelm you so much that shutting off that part of you that is forced to care all the time is the only way possible at coping. And no, I’m not talking about medicine.

There’s a lot to be said about the state of healthcare in Lebanon. I’ve seen some aspects of it. The numbers behind it are all over the place. But no matter how those numbers are shuffled, you are left with almost 1 million or so Lebanese, in a best case scenario, that are not covered in any way or another and are forced to withstand the pressure of Lebanon’s increasingly costly medicine on their own.

Many crumble under that pressure and figure that dying is simply better than getting overwhelmed with debts or simply getting a hospital’s door slammed in your face.

There are a lot of stories to tell. They happen at a lot of the country’s hospitals. I’ve heard of a well-known hospital that wouldn’t take in a 2 month old patient because his parents couldn’t afford to pay down the required deposit for his surgery. I’ve seen old people who have no one left and nothing left to pay for the simplest of blood tests. I’ve seen exorbitant prices for surgeries, some of them possibly warranted given their complexity, that cannot be afforded by 99% of the Lebanese population.

Perhaps Lebanese hospitals focus on the business part of their affairs much more than they should. But are they to blame? They need to run their facilities, pay their employees and still make enough profit to constantly improve their brand of medicine seeing as Lebanese medicine is so specified that not having the latest it-machine at your facility means you’ve fallen behind the times. The people who can pay simply hospital-shop and go to the one with the newest toy, newest hotshot doctor….

Should they provide such highly costly services for free and then not be able to run themselves anymore?

A lot of patients cannot afford healthcare in Lebanon. Insurance companies make sure to screw you whenever they can. The Lebanese ministry of health has a limited budget that is allocated in an even more limited way and benefits mostly those who know someone who knows the minister more than those who actually need something. Many of the people who can afford insurance, for instance, simply do not buy it because they have good enough connections not to pay while those who cannot afford insurance rot at hospital doors.
The national social security fund is not really national and hospitals find themselves in financial problems because of it more often than not and decide to relegate patients who present with that form of coverage into the “we don’t have a place for you bin.”

What does a Lebanese person have to do to receive one of his fundamental human rights? I guess they can just die in a state that couldn’t care less. Many of you probably don’t give this a second thought but it’s time you do. If you can afford insurance, go and buy one as soon as you can. If you can get enrolled in the National Social Security Fund, make sure you do so as well. If you can find any possible means of coverage for you and your loved ones, seek it. There’s no better investment.

After all, we live in a place that is so behind the times that talk about universal healthcare is light years from becoming mainstream enough and where our grandparents’ fate is to get people to feel sorry enough for them to raise money for them to do their blood tests.

I wish I could tell all the stories that I have to tell. Maybe someday.

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