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Auck DHB Bills Student $1000 For Jetlag Diagnosis

Auckland Hospital Charges Student $1000 For Jetlag Diagnosis

By Samantha Motion

An international student who was charged almost $1000 for a doctor to diagnose him with jetlag is shocked at the cost of health care for overseas visitors in New Zealand.

In April this year, Saud Ahmad Aldrehem travelled from Saudi Arabia to Auckland to study at the English Language Academy.

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Sick and tired: International student Saud Ahmad Aldrehem is fed up with New Zealand’s expensive health care.

He said he was unable to sleep for four days after arriving in New Zealand, so at around 4pm on Friday, April 4 he went to Auckland City Hospital seeking advice from a doctor.

It was almost 9pm before he saw a medical professional. The hospital also provided him with an Arabic translator, whom he spoke to for two or three hours.

He said the hospital did not inform him of the extra charge for this service.

Aldrehem said the consultation lasted between one-and-a-half and two hours, after which the doctor prescribed him seven sleeping tablets.

He was charged $635 for the consultation, which the hospital says was more than three hours long.

On top of that he was charged $238.67 for the interpreter, which includes $66.67 for an after-hours call out.

Add to that GST of $109.21 and the visit cost a grand total of $982.88, all to be told that he needed to get some sleep.

Aldrehem has insurance in his home country, so he was reimbursed by the Saudi Arabian Embassy for the full cost of his consultation.

A representative from the Ministry of Health said international students were not eligible for publicly funded health services.

A source in Auckland City Hospital’s finance department said that because the hospital only had specialists and consultants rather than GPs, it was normal for unfunded consultations to cost upwards of $300.

Other calls to the Auckland District Health Board public relations staff were not returned.

Elberta Chan, team leader of AUT University International Student Support Services says it is because of these costs that it was compulsory for all international students to have both travel and medical insurance.

“It’s so that if a student has an accident they should be able to see a doctor without having to worry about the cost.

“It’s better to have insurance and not need it, than need it and not have it,” she says.

Speaking through a translator, Aldrehem said that despite the ordeal, he is relieved just to be able to sleep again.

Samantha Motion is a AUT University journalism student.


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