News Coronavirus watch07 Jul 2020

Oman:Private hospitals cannot turn away COVID-19 patients

| 07 Jul 2020

Private hospitals in Oman are obliged to accept and treat COVID-19 patients - Omani and expatriate - regardless of their ability to pay the cost of their hospitalisation, said media reports citing a top official of the Ministry of Health (MoH).

MoH director general of private health establishments Dr Mazin Al Khabori stressed that the government’s recent declaration guaranteeing the reimbursement of costs borne by private hospitals in the treatment of private patients, mandates the private healthcare sector to unreservedly treat any private patient – particularly an expatriate – diagnosed with COVID-19.

He said, “Private hospitals have an obligation to accept private COVID-19 patients whether or not they are covered by health insurance or their inability to guarantee payment themselves. We have guaranteed the private hospitals that if they do not receive payment from the employer or the insurer, the government will reimburse them suitably. Consequently, at the point of care, no individual – especially from the private sector – should be denied treatment for COVID-19 because they may lack insurance coverage or the required funds.”

The Omani government will employ legal means to recoup any costs from employers of private patients treated at private hospitals, Dr Al Khabori said. Under Omani labour law, companies and sponsors have an obligation, up to a certain limit and subject to certain exclusions, to pay the medical bills of their employees.

With COVID-19 expected to remain part of the epidemiological threat landscape for the foreseeable future, private hospitals must be suitably prepared and equipped to open their facilities to the novel coronavirus-related treatment as they do other diseases and ailments.

He said, “As COVID-19 is going to remain with us for some time, hospitals have been advised to embrace two pathways: One for COVID-19, and the other for non-COVID-19 cases, so they can cater to both types of patients at the same time.

“It is no longer practical for hospitals to try to remain exclusively focused on non-COVID-19 treatments. At some point, they will receive COVID-19 cases, and cannot keep turning such patients away or moving them out as soon as they are discovered as positive. This is illogical. Hospitals should create enough capacity to handle and treat such cases as part of their normal offering.”

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