Pacific Family Health Journal: Article 8 – Private Healthcare: it shouldn’t make you bankrupt

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Pacific Family Health Journal with Dr Rodney Itaki

Accessing private healthcare in PNG should not make anyone bankrupt

I have worked in both private and public hospitals and I can say that accessing private healthcare is expensive for the average working class Papua New Guineans. If a middle class Papua New Guinean was to choose between going to see a private doctor for a headache and paying for food for 7 days, he or she would choose food and ignore seeking medical assistance for the headache.

One of the functions of a health system is to protect the most vulnerable of the community from going bankrupt when seeking healthcare. For example when you pay the consultation fee at a private medical center to see a doctor then that expense is out of your pocket. The country’s health system should be designed or function in a way so that the medical bill does not put you into dept.

So do you think PNG’s health system is protecting people from going into dept because of out of pocket high medical bills?

One of the main aims of any public health system is that it must be easily accessible, easy to navigate and the cost must not be too high that most people are unable to afford it. Much is known, said and written about PNG’s public health system so I will not discuss it but I want to focus on the working middle class Papua New Guineans in urban areas.

Why this group? Because this group is the tax payers and their health is to be protected. One increasing trend in PNG is more and more of the working middle class in PNG are taking up medical insurance and that is one way you can protect your health so that you do not bankrupt yourself or go into dept to pay for private medical care in PNG.

If you are taking out medical insurance, make sure you read the terms and conditions carefully and choose a plan that is easy on your budget and one that allow you to pay for small fraction of the medical fee upfront. Do not take up those that make you pay 100% of the cost and you stress out yourself trying to get reimbursed down the line.

Dr Rodney Itaki, MBBS, BMedSci

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