09 Mar 2015

A question about : Being chased for Greek medical bills.

My 19 year old son went to Corfu recently, I warned him about the usual scams/problems but I didn't count on this one.

It was his first night out, he's a student and had saved for his holiday for over a year working at the weekends. He was in a club in Kavos, he'd had a few drinks as you'd expect. He suffers from nose bleeds which he inherited from me, he went outside to get some cool air and try and stop the bleed. The nose bleeds don't require any contact they just start for no reason. Whilst he was outside he was approached by an ambulance crew, they saw the blood and insisted they check him out in their ambulance. The next thing he knows is they're taking him to hospital despite his protests. He was put on bed in the hospital and examined by a doctor. As he was tired from the early start and the flight he fell asleep and woke up in the hospital attached to a drip. When he produced his EHIC card for medical treatment he was told that it was no good as he was in a private hospital. We had visions of him not being allowed out of the country until he paid the bill and were on tenterhooks until got home.

He's now home and safe but we keep getting bills and demand from the private hospital totaling over 800 euros. He did take out a basic medical insurance with AXA but that has a Ј200 excess and from conversations I've had with them they will only cover emergency medical treatment. It'll be hard to convince them that a nosebleed is an emergency!

I now have 4 options as I see it -

1/Ignore the hospitals letters emails and hope they will give up.

2/Try and convince the insurers to pay up and pay the excess.

3/Pay the full amount but with an agreement to pay it at say 10 or 20 euros a month (what he can afford.)

4/ Agree to pay a more reasonable sum say 200 euros in one lump sum as full and final payment.

I'd be interested to hear any advice or other options and I'd also like to highlight this scam to British tourists.

BTW just found this about enforcing debts across the E.C.

Best answers:

  • Perhaps you ought to be glad they didn't amputate!
    I certainly wouldn't pay myself but don't know the exact legal positon is.
    Its sounds so good, i'd contact watchdog about it.
  • a) it would be classified as an emergency if he was ambulanced away to a hospital IMHO, whether private or not.
    b) if he was not made aware it was private (his word against theirs here IMHO) then he is not liable for the costs surely?
    I think I'd be inclined to ignore all letters and see what happens, frankly the only scenario I can see is if he returns to Greece in the future there may be an oustanding civil warrant?
    Normally all medical/dental treatment I have had in Greece they tell you very clearly (in good English) that you have to pay (usually in cash!) if it's private.
  • Did he agree to travel with them to hospital and consent to treatment? If not, he has been the victim of abduction and assault. A stiff letter to that effect, demanding compensation for the injury they caused inserting a foreign body (a drip) into his arm, should make them crawl away.
  • Hmmm, I would guess that the Greek hospital is quite within their rights to instigate proceedings in the Small Claims court. Now whether they would do would be an entirely different matter. The fact is he has had the treatment, he could have refused to get in the ambulance and walk away. At the very least he could have walked out the hospital.
    As an aside, an EHIC only gives free treatment to the same level as a local citizen, which often isn't as inclusive as we receive here.
    My advice would be to argue and attempt a reduced settlement. And then to put down to experience. We have all had a bit of that eh?
  • Have you spoke with the insurance company? After all, if it was a medical condition that, in the eyes of the hospital, required treatment, you may well find he is covered. Ok, you may have an expensive excess, but it's cheaper than the bill. The only thing i would worry about is making sure the claim is registered with the insurance company as soon as possible, as most have a time limit as to when you can submit a claim based on the final day of the holiday.
  • Abduction is now a good way to help Greece out of economic crisis ?
  • Beware Greeks bearing ... well anything really.
  • would the insurance know about the pre existing condition. the drip sound like it was more to do with his drinking. bet he was more than a little drunk. try the insurance and if that fails then get him to pay. its not your problem its your sons.
  • It is difficult s to deny service was provided, in that he let himself be taken to hospital, admitted, and a drip to rehydrate. This would not happen if he refused the treatment offered. Therefore a contract will have been in existence.
    The flip side is what would happen if he was unable to staunch the flow and passed out, with no medical attention at all? It is all a learning experience but at least I is only money....
  • When I saw the thread title I thought it was about this story
  • I can't see that they have any grounds to charge a fee for this treatment unless it was made clear at the outset that the treatment was fee-based.
    It looks as if he didn't need first aid, let alone hospital treatment. It seems to be a scam to con tourists into paying for unnecessary treatment.
    Write to them, making the above points (and any other points that are relevant), and say that you are disputing the fee, and will happily defend any action by them in the small claims court.
    Fraud is a criminal offence in most countries, so may also be worth reporting the incident to the local police in Corfu. It could be that it happens all the time, and they may give you some advice dealing with the situation.
    On the other hand, if it turns out that he was bleeding so much that it really was a medical emergency, then then I would have thought the insurers can't escape paying (although you will still have the excess).
    So if it is possible that the treatment was appropriate, then refer them to his insurers.
    IMHO The treatment must be either inappropriate (= you don't need to pay anything) or appropriate (= the insurers problem, although you need to pay the policy excess)