Story #15

I work as a COVID-19 ICU nurse. Me and my family have been living in the Czech Republic for 2 years. My husband is an engineer, children go to elementary school and kindergarten. As me and my husband are employed – we are entitled to the public health insurance. But not our children, who are left with the limited private health insurance only. We live in a small town in Moravian-Silisean region, where no doctor or hospital accepts private health insurance. This means that we have to pay out of pocket for every examination and then pray that private health insurance finds our claim valid and pays us some money back. This very disturbing situation became an absolute nightmare since COVID-19 outbreak.

Last month my husband, despite being fully vaccinated, got 3 days of fever and a running nose. Being a health worker and a responsible person I insisted he undergoes a PCR test – which turned out to be positive and indicated of a highly infectious delta-mutation. So we followed all of the COVID-19 instructions: registered all our contacts as suspicious ones, informed the doctors and quarantined our son who couldn’t get the COVID-19 vaccine because of his age. Later on we got a call from the Region Health Station – they told us that every non-vaccinated family member should undergo a PCR test to end quarantine early and it’s an absolute must for those who start to exhibit any symptoms.

On the second day of quarantine my youngest son started to show COVID-like symptoms – he also got a running nose and sub febrile temperature. I called his doctor and she sent us an electronic referral for a PCR test, that should have been fully covered by health insurance. I made an appointment with a laboratory at the very same hospital I work. But when we arrived for our appointment the laboratory told me that as my son has private health insurance that is as good as no insurance so I must pay out of pocket. That was a day before my pay was due and I didn’t have another 817 czk, so the laboratory showed us the door. I was sad, angry and afraid at the same time – afraid of being fined for my son not taking the test. Indeed the next day I got a call from the Region Health Station and the woman on the other end of the line was furious and yelling at me as she could see the no-show in the system.

As I said – I am a health worker and a responsible person. The day I got my salary I took my son to the test as samoplátce. Good news – test turned out to be negative, bad news – private health insurance wouldn’t reimburse us for it as the reservation was made as samoplátce and not through the COVID-19 tracing system on basis of a doctor’s referral.

The Region Health Station told us that we must undergo another PCR test to end the quarantine. At the same time they refused to make a referral for a PCR test – we were told that as my son has private health insurance and doesn’t have a Rodné číslo assigned they can’t create a referral in the system. The son’s doctor (who somehow managed to make a referral before) told us he could not do it this time, as my son doesn’t exhibit any symptoms anymore, and in this case only the Health Station could issue a referral. This means me losing another 817 czk I’ll pay for the PCR test as private health insurance won’t reimburse it without a referral.

1 year of private health insurance costs more than 1 full salary of a COVID-19 ICU nurse. And I still need to pay out of pocket for every doctor’s visit and only hope to see part of this money back, or risk my children being denied the health care they require. What can possibly justify the cruelty of this system towards taxpayers’ children?