Calls to cap PPE charges

in News · 11-08-2020 18:20:00 · 0 Comments

Deco received about 150 complaints from consumers related to the charging of personal protective equipment (PPE) against covid-19 and disinfection 'kits' in health facilities, calling on the Government to impose limits on the amounts charged.

"The main reason for the complaints is invariably related to lack of prior information. Consumers reschedule their consultation, their examination and are not informed about this cost," Ana Sofia Ferreira, coordinator of the Consumer Support Office of the Association for the Defence of Consumers (Deco), told Lusa agency.

The complaints arose in May, when the "state of emergency" ended, and people began to go to private hospitals to resume consultations and therapies and were surprised with the payment of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks or gloves, used by health professionals.

This charge "is very variable in private healthcare units", and can range from "from €5 to €25 or €30", and also varies depending on whether it is a consultation, an examination or an internment.

For Ana Sofia Ferreira, the number of complaints received "is considerable", but she pointed out that there are now fewer complaints and that there has been "an improvement" in the information on the websites of some private health groups and "greater transparency" of this information.

But this information does not always add up. Sometimes the consumer is confronted with another value already after the medical act provided, which "is not admissible". There are situations in which the PPE value "is equal or higher than the act itself," she warned, exemplifying that there are health subsystems in which the consumer pays €3.99 for a consultation and then pays €5, €8 or even €15 for the kit, depending on the health unit.

The Health Regulatory Authority (ERS) has already stated that these charges are not illegal, but "it was very clear on the issue of the importance of prior information.

"The consumer has the right to know in advance and as accurately as possible everything that will be charged", in what the PPE consists, "the reason for its collection and when it is delivered to the health professional", he defended.

Initially the complaints were related to the collection made by the main private health groups, but then extended to the dental clinics when they reopened.

In addition to charging PPE, Deco also had complaints related to the collection of disinfection 'kits' and 'kits' of chair protection material and utensils" at dentists.

"Consumers are often already undergoing treatment in that dental clinic," but if they do not pay for the kits, they are denied access to further treatment, which "are complicated situations that deserve to be analyzed.

Deco argued from the beginning that there should be "action by the government, an action from the legislative point of view, not only with limits on collections," but also with "rules and criteriafor the collection of these amounts so as not to turn the covid fees into a situation of total discretion in collecting them," she said.

Ana Sofia Ferreira also warned of the risk that this collection could be extended to other locations, a practice that should be verified by the Government.

"From the moment we begin to transpose these extra costs related to covid-19 to consumers we can effectively reach a time when we begin to have fees in various establishments and in various realities which is naturally worrying," she said.


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