Unless you are an expat checking in to one of the world’s most exclusive five star hotels, the most expensive way to spend a night is as a private hospital inpatient.
An aging global population coupled with huge strides forward in drugs and technology mean many of us are living longer and need more care and maintenance to keep our bodies running.
The cost of inpatient care is soaring – and if you do not have private medical insurance the price of a hospital stay.
In the USA, the average cost of a night in hospital in a teaching hospital is $850 a day, according to statistics from the World Health Organisation.
Add to that the cost of drugs, tests and procedures and the real price of treatment soars to thousands of dollars a day.
In countries with a cheaper cost of living, health care is also expensive.
In the United Arab Emirates, the price is higher than the US – an estimated $960 a day.
Insurance may come with a high price, but analysis of pay-outs shows that inpatient stays came to almost a third of claims settled in Dubai, while in the Netherlands the price of bed and board was 51% of the claim and 48% in Switzerland.
By 2020, the UAE is expected spend $28.9 billion on inpatient stays compared with $16.4 billion last year.
The question is why is the cost of healthcare inflation 43% over five years when inflation generally is hovering between 2% and 3%?
Costly drugs, technology and fraud
Medical experts blame over-reliance on technology, expensive branded drugs, fraud and too many people staying in hospital when they do not need to.
In the UAE, fraud is estimated to involve 5% of claims and to inflate premiums everyone pays by between 20% and 30%.
Although private healthcare is typically part of an employee package, many expats do not read the small print that says if you no longer work for a company, the cover does not apply.
Corporate cover no longer extends to anyone who resigns or has a contract terminated due to ill-health, and if they need expensive treatment or repatriation, they must foot the bill from their own pockets.
Taking private healthcare advice from a professional is vital even if an employer offers cover as there may be expensive holes in the plan.