Families shocked at hospital bills

New parents face high bills if they don't have health insurance.

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The birth of twin girls should have been the happiest time of Ahmed’s life.

His wife delivered their first children at Al Qassimi Hospital in Sharjah. The babies were born premature and had to be kept in the hospital’s nursery unit for almost eight weeks.

Each day they spent in the nursery cost Dh2,200. Neither Ahmed nor his wife, who are both Egyptian, had health insurance to cover the fees.

One of the twins died after nine days, leaving the couple grief stricken. Just over a week later the couple’s second baby girl also died.

The hospital told Ahmed that the final bill for delivery and care of both children was likely to be as much as Dh180,000.

The 35-year-old, who lost his job at a coffee shop in Sharjah after spending time away from work to be with his family, said he was left stunned at the high cost of treatment, particularly at a government hospital.

Costs are similarly high at private hospitals. A Syrian family, who preferred anonymity, faced bills of Dh3,200 a day for the two months their child was cared for in a premature baby unit.

“The only thing that helped us were charitable companies otherwise all our family could not raise all that money for two months,” the father said.