Private hospitals are guilty of increasing their prices well beyond the inflation rate and committing a range of other abuses, the head of the consumer protection agency Profeco said Wednesday.
“Inflation was 2.83% last year and is 5.59% this year. However, the [price] increases at private hospitals have been 15% to 20% – well above inflation,” Ricardo Sheffield told reporters at President López Obrador’s regular news conference.
He accused some private hospitals of deliberately charging patients amounts that exceed the limits of their insurance coverage.
“[That’s] something we’re looking at very carefully,” Sheffield said.
The Profeco chief said that some private hospitals order studies that aren’t necessary and overcharge for medications and medical supplies they use to treat patients.
Sheffield said Profeco has detected that some are charging patients deposits without explaining to them how the money can be recovered. “A lot of the time it’s above the deductible,” he added.
“What are the reasons why we’ve visited hospitals? For not displaying prices, for not respecting prices that are displayed and for improper, unjustified and excessive charges,” Sheffield said, adding that Profeco has responded to more than 800 complaints during the past two and a half years.
“The last operation we carried out was last weekend in several hospitals in Monterrey, Mexico City and México state,” he said.
“… The hospitals that have had the highest number of complaints are Star Médica with 11, nine at Ángeles hospitals, six at Médica Sur hospitals, five at the Centro Hospitalario Universidad and three at the Centro Médico del Noreste, … several of these hospitals are national chains,” Sheffield said, adding that Profeco has issued 64 fines.
“What do we recommend to consumers? Make sure that the [health care] provider … shows you its list of prices and medical rates. If they ask you for a deposit, they should explain how they will return it to you, what it will be used for and why [they’re asking for] that amount,” he said.
Sheffield also said that hospitals should be upfront about the prices they will charge for medications and medical supplies.
Contracts between hospitals and patients should be registered with Profeco and the former should advise the latter how they can file a complain should the need arise, he added.
“And the most important thing, if you are a victim of a hospital that exceeds the limit [of acceptable conduct] please call us … so we can advise you and support you.”
Mexico News Daily