Dubai tourist with pneumonia struggles with Dh400,000 hospital bill

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Dubai - The 78-year-old also doesn't have health insurance to cover her treatment.

By Saman Haziq

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Published: Fri 7 Feb 2020, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Sun 9 Feb 2020, 9:12 AM

An elderly British woman, who came to Dubai to spend Christmas with her daughter and son, is now battling for her life in a hospital, where she was admitted after collapsing at home because of pneumonia just six days after arrival.
To make things worse, 78-year-old Margo doesn't have health insurance to cover her treatment. Her husband Tom Ashurst was also admitted to a hospital, but was discharged after two weeks. Margo Ashurst and her husband Tom Ashurst travelled from Newcastle to Dubai in early December 2019 and within days after arrival, both of them were admitted to hospital with a strain of pneumonia.
Their daughter Lydia Ashurst, 57, is now struggling emotionally and financially as the hospital bill has touched nearly Dh400,000.
Talking about how it all started, Lydia said: "It was after many years that the four of us - my parents, my brother and I - were getting together for Christmas. My brother, who is based in the UK, gifted my parents tickets to Dubai so that we can all get together and celebrate. Since my parents and brother live in the UK, insurance coverage is for the UK and it completely slipped my mind to check about the coverage here."
First to be admitted was Margo. She collapsed in the bathroom just before heading to bed and the family, unsure of what was wrong, called the emergency services. Then only, they discovered that neither of their parents had taken medical insurance for their trip.
Margo was admitted to a private hospital as it was the closest to where she was located. Two days later, Tom also got sick and was admitted to a government hospital because of their financial situation.
Lydia, who moved to the UAE IN 2010, said: "I work at a school in the administration department and don't have a big salary. My brother doesn't have a job presently. Since I was duped by my former husband, who took all we had and ran away, I am under huge financial pressure of paying off debts. So when we were asked to make a huge payment, I and my brother used our credit cards to make some initial payments. After two weeks, my father was discharged and my brother took him back to the UK. "
Tom spent 14 days in hospital and Lydia and her brother had to shell out Dh25,000.
Margo unfortunately suffered further complications while in medical care and had to be admitted in the ICU.
"Her lungs are not responding to treatment. I just hope she gets a little better so that I can shift her back to the UK where her medical expense will be covered. However, for that also I am told that a minimum of Dh50,000 will be required. I do not know how it will be done, it's hard to see my mother in so much pain and what was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime has become a nightmare for all of us."
Margo's medical bill has shot up to Dh400,000 with no one to pay that. "With my limited salary, I have absolutely no way of paying the medical charges. We are praying and hoping that my mother will gain strength and fight her way out of this terrible situation."
Giving her piece of advise to people planning to bring their loved ones to the UAE, Lydia said: "I urge everyone to ensure that whoever they bring in, especially elderly people, has medical cover. We never know when the unexpected may happen. In most cases it's not expensive. It's important to check medical values which are way more important than covering the cost of lost luggage or delayed flights."

Some previous incidents where insurance
Suchitra Pratap, 61-year-old mother of Navdeep Pratap, slipped into a coma after an accident in Discovery Gardens on February 6, last year.
The retired teacher suffered severe internal haemorrhage and after a surgery, she was put on a ventilator. Unfortunately, Navdeep had not taken an insurance policy for his mother, causing the hospital bill to rise to Dh180,000 following a 35 per cent discount.
In January last year, RN, an Indian national working in the UAE, brought her parents for a trip to Dubai.
RN's father, a diabetes patient, suffered a brain stroke due to blood pressure and was admitted to a hospital. RN, a life insurance company employee, suffered the brunt of not availing of travel insurance as her hospital bills surpassed Dh130,000.
Surendra Nath Khanna, father of Anubhav Khanna, was rushed to a Dubai hospital due to acute breathlessness on March 15 last year, the next morning after his arrival from India. As he did not purchase a medical insurance for his father, Anubhav Khanna had to borrow from family, friends and office to pay the hospital bill that went up above Dh40,000.

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