Paul Katto Tumuhimbise, the deputy director of the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID), has ordered regional CID commanders to arrest private health service providers who overcharge or detain bodies of clients owing to unpaid medical bills.
Katto explained in a memo seen by The Nile Post titled “Overcharging patients and other forms of misconduct by private health care providers,” that there has been a lot of concern and public outcry about private health care providers overcharging Covid-19 patients and detaining those who have recovered or died for failure to pay their medical bills.
Part of the message said, “You are required to take interest in investigating and apprehending private healthcare providers who continue to infringe the law by committing offences such as wrongful imprisonment and obstructing the burial of the dead, which are strictly stipulated in the penal code.”
While private health providers are important in supporting and augmenting government hospitals in providing medical services, Tumuhimbise claims that they are required by law to charge appropriate fees for the services they give.
“They also have the right to sue for and recover all of their fees in any court with jurisdiction. As a result, overcharging patients and keeping them alongside dead bodies is not only illegal, but also inhumane, and should be prohibited,” he stated.
Following the Covid-19 outbreak, there have been increasing stories of private hospitals holding patients or dead bodies as collateral for payment of overdue medical costs.
Further reports indicate that some patients have been denied emergency medical assistance, such as oxygen therapy or support, because they cannot pay an advance payment.