Not a real nurse. This is the only medical photo I have.
The kid got had fever and nausea and was in bad shape. Put him in hospital and thank god it wasn’t dengue, seemed more like bad sushi (his favorite, until now). We had to put him in hospital, but even with shitty insurance the bill was like Rs. 43,000. For a two night stay. This is obviously insane.
When a kid has bad fever in Sri Lanka you have to put them in hospital. I am shit scared of dengue because I’ve seen children almost die, and kids do die. With even viral fever, they can get dehydrated fast and that’s just a risk you don’t take. The cost of hospitalization in Sri Lanka, however, is so high that even a brief stay can cash you out.
Of course, we do have free government hospitals, or freeish. I honestly don’t know how they are, but I’ve never been in a situation where I wanted to test that option out. I’m judging, but I’ve always gone to private hospitals, like Durdan’s or Lanka Hospitals (now government, technically, but still pay). I honestly don’t know if the government option works. I’d like to try it, but I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve been like ‘I need medical care, and I want to try something different.’
On the other end there’s private hospitals and insurance. I had viral fever when I had a square job and the company plan paid for everything. If you’re self-employed or hustling or whatever, that option isn’t really there. The mother had some cheap insurance that covered like Rs. 2,500 a day, which is nothing. She obviously needs to get something better, but work insurance takes time to kick in, et cetera.
I don’t know if we’re making the right decisions, but when a kid is sick you just put them in the best place possible and worry about the bills later, especially with dengue going around. That said, I think a lot of people are in this mess, where you have up to lakhs in bills for essentially saline, antibiotics and Panadol, plus shitty food and a room. By being in a hospital you mitigate risk, and that risk is worth much more than you pay. I mean, what is a child’s life worth? Infinity.
Still, the healthcare system in Sri Lanka can really cripple a family’s finances. I suppose this applies to families that are outwardly middle class but really not. Like many services, there is no great middle path. That, however, is where I too often find myself. If you’re poor you go to a government hospital, if you’re rich you go private. Staying in the middle class is a constant struggle, and healthcare is a kicker you can’t refuse.
So what’s the point here? It’s not exactly a news flash that healthcare is expensive. One answer is to stop complaining about high bills and get better insurance, but we can’t really afford that either. Alternately, suck it up and go to government hospitals. Or don’t check the kid in at all and hope for the best. I really don’t know, but I don’t think this is the only (hodgepodge) family falling through the cracks.