The elderly in Lebanon are without medication or hospitalization

Youssef Diab wrote in “Asharq Al-Awsat”:

Lebanese woman Inaam Al-Halabi is over eighty years old, but the nightmare of old age haunts her every day, and her anxiety increases as long as she lives in a country where human value is not a priority. So what about the elderly who are plagued by diseases and lack medical coverage, whether from the Ministry of Health, Social Security, or private insurance companies?

Inaam’s situation is like that of most elderly people who find themselves without health guarantees. Inaam recounts with pain and grief how her life was turned upside down: “Before the crisis we were fine,” says the elderly woman, adding: “My husband and I were being treated at the expense of Social Security, and we were registered in the name of our only son who works in a private company, but after the crisis we lost… Medical coverage, because the Security Fund pays the bills for medical examinations, hospitalization, and tests at a rate of 1,500 liras per dollar, while hospitals and laboratories charge their dues at a rate of 90,000 liras.” She confirms that “the cost of seeing a doctor and medical tests requires insurance of about 400 US dollars every 3 months, and my son is now unable to pay this amount.”

Part of the protests demanding raising the minimum wage in front of the government palace in Beirut on Sunday (EPA)
Inaam’s condition is better than her husband, who turned 91 years ago with a health condition that portends the worst. She says with regret: “My husband needs 9 types of chronic disease medications that he cannot do without.” She points out that her son “went to most private insurance companies and tried to obtain an insurance card, all of which refused to insure us because we were over eighty years old.” Inaam concludes: “We wish for death every hour. Death is more merciful than life in a country where there is no value except for the rich and those with wealth.”

Elderly crisis
Inaam’s story is not a unique case in Lebanon. Rather, it is a stark example of what the elderly suffer as they await an inevitable fate. What is noteworthy is that the ordeal does not extend to those who are unable to join insurance companies, but rather applies even to the insured who are advanced in age, as some companies shirk their obligations towards them. Fadi points out. Kh. He, who works in a self-employed profession, noted that he was “committed to registering his parents with an insurance company for more than two decades,” and revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that his 76-year-old mother “had to be admitted to the hospital and undergo an emergency operation, but the shock came from The insurance company refused to cover the cost of the operation and treatment, due to her advanced age.”

He expresses his anger because “the emergency operation was delayed by hours, and all his attempts failed without the intervention of the lawyer, who threatened to file a lawsuit against the company, which requested an additional sum of $2,000 to agree to cover the operation.”

Health insurance for the elderly
President of the Association of Insurance Companies (ACAL), Asaad Mirza, was surprised by the occurrence of this situation, and confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that “insurance institutions are committed to providing comprehensive health coverage to their insureds until death, provided that they are affiliated before reaching the age of seventy, and this coverage is insured for 720 days.” ». Mirza admitted that companies “do not accept insurance for those who have reached the age of seventy and were not affiliated before that, because they cannot replace the state.”

There are cases in which the elderly can be accepted, but to no avail. Walid Hawanji, an agent for a number of private insurance companies, explains that “companies are obligated to cover the expenses of illness and treatment for the elderly if they have been insured for years, that is, before they contracted an incurable or chronic disease.” He told Asharq Al-Awsat: “We have insurance members who are now 94 years old, but they joined many years ago.” Hawanji added: “Insurance companies are ready to provide health cards to new, elderly members, but this card does not cover chronic and incurable diseases that the patient suffered before joining,” noting that “the new insurance includes emergency cases only, that is, if the insured suffers a fracture or an accident.” However, if he suffers a health setback as a result of what he previously suffered from, that is, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer, it cannot be covered.” He explained, “If an elderly person is insured, and he does not suffer from a health condition in the first year, his card can be renewed in the following year with chronic diseases included, but its cost is high and ranges between 3,000 and 10,000 US dollars.”

Representatives of international medical organizations during a visit to a medical center run by Amel International Foundation (Amel)
Mutual funds
Between the guarantor state institutions that have been put out of service, and the insurance companies that “kill” the citizen, there are alternative solutions that can be resorted to, as the head of the Union of Health Mutual Funds in Lebanon, Ghassan Daou, explained that “Mutual Funds are social institutions that do not seek profit, and are stipulated In the decree establishing it. He told Asharq Al-Awsat that the mutual funds belonging to the Lebanese Cooperatives Directorate “are working to confront the hospital concerns of the Lebanese citizen, regardless of his age and health condition.”

He asked: “How can the head of the family relax when the hospital requests thousands of dollars in advance before the patient enters, and this creates great anxiety among people?” He added: “There is no age limit for those affiliated with the Hospital Mutual Fund. We realize that when a person exceeds seventy years of age, the chances of contracting the disease and his need for hospitalization become very great. We have many elderly subscribers, and two weeks ago we celebrated a member of the Fund who turned 100 years of age.” .

The head of the Union of Health Mutual Funds recalled that, “Before the crisis, Social Security and other government guarantee bodies collected their contributions in Lebanese pounds and paid 90 percent of the value of the hospital bill, but today hospitals and medical centers are collecting the bill at a rate of 89,000 pounds to the dollar.” Daou stressed that “the Union of Mutual Health Funds seeks to achieve a main goal, which is to make health care available to all people without distinction or discrimination, because the ability of the mutual support group is stronger than the ability of the citizen alone.”

Social security
For his part, the Director General of Social Security, Dr. Muhammad Karki, acknowledged the difficulty of “people’s hospital concerns since the collapse of the value of the national currency,” and revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the Security Board of Directors “achieved a qualitative and acceptable leap in the past days, as it took a decision to pay 60 per One hundred percent of the actual value of the medication bill for chronic diseases, provided that they are “generic” medications. He said: “We have re-engineered all social security benefits, and the insured can now benefit from 620 types of medicine with 60 percent of their value covered,” noting that “the increase also included examinations by specialist doctors, and the value of the examination has now become one million Lebanese pounds (equivalent to 11 US dollars). ).

Karaki confirmed that the insurance “has taken a decision to raise the hospitalization bill, and this decision will be implemented within the next two weeks,” explaining that “the decision stipulates that the insurance will pay 50 percent for 3,200 surgical operations, and also the same percentage for hospitalization treatment in all Lebanese hospitals, and that Instead of the 90 percent that he was paying before the crisis.

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