This is fun

The Government has been urged to crack down on health tourism after it emerged that a Nigerian woman cost the NHS £350,000 by flying to Britain to give birth to twins.

Luton and Dunstable University Hospital is said to be chasing payment for the caesarean section the unidentified woman had, followed by intensive care treatment for the two babies.

Fun in a rather dark manner.

We know that the NHS won’t pay more than £30k per qualy, or rather than NICE won’t let it for a drug or treatment. But what’s the number for treatment in general, ICU etc?

26 comments on “This is fun

  1. “The woman gave birth in 2015, and the hospital confirmed it was still owed £348,683 for the treatment.”

    So it isn’t “chasing” payment, is it? It might as well be honest and just write off the debt.

  2. Hey, at least unlike the US the product won’t be an automatic citizen who will leach off real Britons further.

    They’ll probably be allowed in anyway.. But at least it’s not certain.

  3. Yeah, that meets NICE standards if you assume that both twins expect to live more than six healthy years during the rest of this century.

    There is effectively no limit on what the NHS will spend in maternity wards – I have heard that they absorb half of clinical spending.

  4. ICU for babbies there is basically no limit. You can’t, can you? Unless you are a complete heartless bastard of an economist.

    Most of the cost is going to be having the kit and people to meet peak demand. Actually using it doesn’t add to the cost that much.

    I know from experience that NHS hospitals usually do not bother billing foreigners (they didn’t bill me or my insurers), they simply aren’t set up to do it, and faced with an obviously English person presenting a forrin health insurance document makes their little brains melt. They probably provide far more uncovered free care for small things that are not worth their while setting up the accounting structure to bill for.

  5. Bloke in Germany – “ICU for babbies there is basically no limit. You can’t, can you? Unless you are a complete heartless bastard of an economist.”

    Or unless the baby is unseen and unable to talk. That is, it is not born yet. Then the NHS is happy to have it put down to save costs.

  6. What James James says

    The only way to have a chance of managing this is to hold the airlines liable for anyone they bring to our shores without valid health insurance.

    Of course that doesn’t help with people who overstay or cancel the insurance once here.

  7. Bloke in North Dorset – “The only way to have a chance of managing this is to hold the airlines liable for anyone they bring to our shores without valid health insurance.”

    Seriously? The only solution to a government agency screwing up on a regular and massive basis is another layer of bureaucratic regulation aimed at punishing people for carrying out their lawful business?

    If we don’t want people in this country we have a government bureaucracy to handle that. They issue visas. If the government has issued a visa, how is it the airlines’ fault if someone turns out to be a health tourist?

  8. The only way to have a chance of managing this is to hold the airlines liable for anyone they bring to our shores without valid health insurance.

    Air France (and I assume other airlines) are not allowed to take heavily pregnant Nigerians on board presumably because of this very problem. But the Nigerians obtain certificates from “doctors” claiming they are only 6 months pregnant rather than 9 months minus 2 days pregnant, meaning some get through anyway. The solutions, as with so many things, are obvious but avoiding accusations of racism is, as ever, the priority.

  9. Tim Newman – “The solutions, as with so many things, are obvious but avoiding accusations of racism is, as ever, the priority.”

    Well the ideal solution would be to insist that no more Third World health tourists enter the country. Or in fact anyone from the Third World. It is not as if they are contributing much to the nation.

    However failing that the simpler option would be to insist that no visa will be issued without proof of medical insurance. You must have a policy to come to the UK or the equivalent – like an agreement from your government. Then they can p!ss off back to whatever sh!thole they came from but there is an insurance company to pay up. They can adjust rates accordingly.

  10. In Australia, you get no non-emergency treatment without presenting a Medicare card to prove you’re eligibile for the state component of the costs and/or a valid BUPA card or credit card. Every medical facility I’ve visited has an EFTPOS terminal to take payment.

    And then, as Tim says, someone manages to arrive with an undisclosed or medical condition or fraudulent medical certificate,
    the airlines should be liable. Not sure if this last part happens here or not.

    But yeah, racism.

  11. I assume the babies then returned home with the mother? Should have held them here as security until the bill was paid.

  12. @smfs,

    Because the airlines have an incentive to get it right where as some locally employed low level clerk working in a visa office doesn’t and is more likely to be open to a bit of bribery. People presenting at hospitals with bogus insurance doesn’t solve the problem.

    It won’t take long for airlines to do a deal with a couple of reputable insurance companies and either tie that directly to the ticket price or insist that anyone purchasing a ticket provides an insurance number that they could quickly check.

    I’d even be prepared to consider paying the airlines a bit of compensation, because it would be cheaper than letting bureaucrats do it.

  13. The airlines already have procedures in place to ensure that travellers have a ticket onward from their destination, and they’re fined if they let someone through without one. They’re very good at this sort of stuff.

  14. SMFS: when my not-yet-wife was studying here in the 1980s her visa required her to have health insurance (along with demonstrable means to live on), and she was nominally British, being from Hong Kong.

  15. Do these Nigerian mothers try it on in other countries too, or is the UK unique in receiving the benefit of their visit?

    I had a quick search for French cases. The closest I found was this French article about a Nigerian lady (claiming to be) 26 weeks pregnant flying to the USA via London and the plane having to divert to Palma because she starting having contractions.

    I can’t even find stories about Algerian women flying to France to give birth. Alas there’s no French equivalent of the Daily Mail.

  16. I did find a French story about an unmarried woman whose foreign boyfriend was refused a visa to come to France, and thus couldn’t be present for the birth. (Quite why the mother couldn’t have given birth in the father’s country wasn’t explained.) The authorities explained that granting him a visa risked revealing to that country’s authorities that they had engaged in extra-marital sex, which was illegal in that particular developing-world country.

    As a result he couldn’t be named on the child’s birth certificate, since he was neither present at the birth, nor was he able to attend the local mairie (town hall) shortly thereafter.

  17. Bloke in North Dorset – “Because the airlines have an incentive to get it right where as some locally employed low level clerk working in a visa office doesn’t and is more likely to be open to a bit of bribery. People presenting at hospitals with bogus insurance doesn’t solve the problem.”

    Again because the government is so f**ked up they cannot do their basic tasks – performed by people with actual university degrees mostly – they have to out source those tasks on a perfectly innocent third party which is not breaking the law but going about their lawful business?

    This is a remarkable set of assumptions.

    I would hope British consular officials are less open to bribes than British Airways clerks.

  18. @smfs,

    I don’t like my solution, absent a better solution I see it as the least worst option.

Leave a Reply

Name and email are required. Your email address will not be published.