Widow struggles to pay $19,000 in hospital bills after husband’s death

National 1 minute, 55 seconds

BELAIT

A WIDOW from Panaga, Seria is struggling to make ends meet after her husband passed away last year, leaving $19,000 in unpaid medical bills.

Dk Sinah Pg Md Karim’s husband, a Malaysian, passed away at 61 in January 2015 due to liver, heart and lung complications, after he was confined for two months at Suri Seri Begawan Hospital’s (SSBH) intensive care unit where the $19,000 in treatment and admission bills were racked up.

She told The Brunei Times yesterday that she was initially relieved after she and her four children met with SSBH's administration towards the middle of last year, where she was given verbal approval that the $19,000 bill would be annulled.

But her reprieve has gradually turned to worry, as more than six months has gone by without the 55-year-old receiving any documentation from SSBH voiding the $19,000 bill.

Dk Sinah said her husband, who had worked as a driver for the Kuala Belait and Seria Municipal Board, began to suffer from multiple health problems, including a bout with cancer after he retired in 2008.

“Before (the $19,000 bill) we managed to pay his other medical bills, amounting to over $13,000 by working out an arrangement with the hospital for repayment over installment,” said Dk Sinah at her home yesterday.

However the 55-year-old housewife said the bills accumulated during her husband’s two-month confinement were initially ordered to be paid in full.

“The amount was insurmountable. I could not find a way, even with my kids’ help, to pay the bill,” said Dk Sinah.

Two of her three children who live with her are employed, one works as a security guard and the other also in the private sector.

“Their income is just enough for us (including our two grandchildren) to get by. All our savings were paid out for his earlier bills,” she added.

One of Mukim Consultative Council (MPM) of Seria’s appointed focal points for Panaga, Zaleha Lahap, said a roundtable with the penghulu would be held this week to address what assistance can be extended to Dk Sinah and her family.

He added that to the MPM’s knowledge, she is currently not receiving any assistance from the Community Development Department (JAPEM) or any other government agency.

“We must act with urgency. They are clearly in need of help,” said Zaleha.

The Brunei Times