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Health & Insurance. 14

Published in Health & Insurance. Written by March 30 2020 0

Colombia’s Health Ministry announced March 30 that it’s accelerating national payments totaling COP$2.1 trillion (US$517 million) to hospitals and clinics this year in order to respond to an expected surge of Coronavirus patients.

The accelerated payments total a little less than half of the COP$4.5 trillion (US$1.1 billion) in subsidies budgeted for the entire year of 2020, according to the Ministry.

Meanwhile, as of March 30, the Health Ministry had reported 798 Coronavirus cases nationally, led by Bogota (350) and Cali/Valle del Cauca (104). Antioquia ranks third with 96 cases, of which 60 are reported within the city of Medellin.

Among the Antioquia cases, most involve people that had traveled to Spain, the USA, Jamaica, Turkey, Brazil, Italy, Panama, the UK, Ecuador and Germany, according to the Antioquia Departmental government. The remaining cases involved people who were cross-infected by foreign travelers.

So far, 12 people have died nationally from Coronavirus complications – none in Antioquia -- while 15 patients have fully recovered, according to the Ministry. The vast majority of victims are recuperating at homes rather than in hospitals.

“In order to guarantee financial liquidity in the nation’s hospitals and clinics in the face of the Coronavirus health emergency, the national government made the decision to anticipate the transfer of COP$2.1 trillion (US$517 million) corresponding to budgeted resources for the sector for the entire year, which will be disbursed to the institutions that provide health services [that is, Institutos Prestadores de Servicios de Salud, ‘IPS’] during the month of April and the beginning of May,” according to the Ministry.

Colombia’s Administrator of Resources of the General Social Security System in Health (ADRES) has already ordered advance payment of COP$782 billion (US$192 million) to health provider and insurance networks to help pay for certain other high-cost procedures and drugs that fall outside mandatory covered services in the “EPS” (empresas promotores de salud) insurance network schemes, the Ministry added.

Now, an additional COP$540 billion (US$133 million) will be released to health networks between April and May for mandatory covered services (including Coronavirus cases).

Yet another COP$700 billion (US$172 million) will be paid in May “so that hospitals, clinics and other medical centers can access the hospital portfolio purchase mechanism” in anticipation of future ADRES payments, according to the Ministry.

Published in Health & Insurance. Written by March 29 2020 0

Colombia’s National Institute of Health (“INS” in Spanish initials) announced March 29 that it's about to receive high-tech Coronavirus laboratory-analysis equipment donated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“The donated equipment, reagents and biosafety elements, which will arrive in the country in the coming days, will allow the National Institute of Health (INS) to continue applying the ‘RT-PCR’ technique, which manages to determine with 99% effectiveness who has acquired -- or not acquired -- the virus,” according to INS.

“In addition, this will improve the installed capacity of the INS to carry out new analyses of the disease in the national territory with the application of nearly 2,000 tests.

“Further, this will allow continuing the training process for scientists from higher education institutions, which have been preparing to implement the detection [analysis] techniques.”

An older diagnostic machine at INS suffered damage several days ago, but the Roche pharmaceutical company stepped-in to repair it on March 27, according to INS.

Meanwhile, as of March 28, Colombia had confirmed 608 cases of Coronavirus nationally, with Antioquia accounting for 67 cases. Six people have died nationally, but none so far in Antioquia.

EPM Donates Ventilators, ICU Capacity

On a related front, Medellin-based utilities giant EPM announced March 28 that it donated COP$3 billion (US$748,000 ) to boost Intensive Care Unit (ICU) capacity at University IPS Hospital (Leon XIII Clinic) in Medellin – specifically for coronavirus (COVID-19) victims.

“The monies will be used to buy 42 new beds to attend to potential patients in complex conditions, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). In addition, 37 ventilators will also be purchased, essential to treat patients when vital signs deteriorate and their lives are put at risk,” according to EPM.

Besides the ventilator purchases, the donation includes another 24 vital-signs monitors, three defibrillators, two 12-channel electrocardiographs and a central monitoring unit, according to EPM.

IPS Buys Another 1,510 Ventilators

Meanwhile, the Colombian Health Ministry announced that it just signed a contract for 1,510 ventilators for the expected surge of Coronavirus victims nationally. However, the Ministry added that this initial purchase likely won’t be sufficient, with at least 7,500 ventilators expected to be required nationally.

Medellin Refurbishes ‘Saludcoop’ Clinic

Meanwhile, on March 28, the Medellin Mayor’s Office announced that it’s refurbishing and reopening portions of the former “Saludcoop” clinic on Avenida 80, including installation of 156 ICUs “to serve all Covid-19 patients who require it.”  Employer-benefits organization Comfama, paint manufacturing giant Pintuco and IPS Universitaria Hospital all contributed to the refurbishment.

“To date there are already 67 [Covid-19] cases reported in Antioquia, and 43 of these people reside in Medellín,” according to the Mayor’s Office.

Five new cases in Medellin were reported last week -- all of which involved persons returning from foreign travel -- and three other persons here have had full recoveries so far, according to the Office.

“The population between 20 and 29 [years of age] continues to be the most affected, for which reason young people are called to comply with the obligatory social distancing,” according to the Mayor.

“Regarding the successful recovery of three people, Rita Almanza, an epidemiologist at the Ministry of Health, stated that these are cases that ‘at the beginning of the epidemic were diagnosed, and then after quarantine, they had a second negative test result.’”

Health Ministry Sends More Money to Antioquia

On another front, Colombia’s Health Ministry announced March 28 that it just sent COP$84 billion (US$21 million) to Antioquia to cover past-due debts at hospitals, clinics and government-subsidized “EPS” (empresas promotoras de salud) health-insurance networks.

“This sum will allow the department to settle the overdue debt for services and procedures not financed from the capitation payment unit (UPC) in the subsidized [EPS] regime and, according to the provisions of Resolution 916 of 2020, Antioquia will proceed to make the payment to the corresponding beneficiaries and creditors” including hospitals, clinics and suppliers, according to the Ministry.

The extra monies also would help hospitals and clinics deal with an expected surge of Coranvirus victims -- among which will be patients in the government-subsidized sector.

Published in Health & Insurance. Written by August 14 2017 0

A new study by Colombia’s health ministry (Ministerio de Salud) found that Suramericana EPS, Sanitas EPS and Aliansalud EPS were rated the top-three health insurance network providers by patients in the “contributory” (user-pays, employer-pays) “Entidades Prestadoras de Salud” (EPS) health-coverage sector.

However, the study didn’t cover health-care consumers in the prepaid sector – an attractive insurance alternative for many wealthier expats (and richer Colombians).

Several companies including Suramericana and Coomeva offer prepaid health insurance coverage in Colombia. However, these policies are much more expensive than EPS policies -- and they’re beyond the budget of most Colombians.

In addition, only Coomeva offers prepaid health insurance to people 60 years and older, which puts most older expats (and native Colombians) either at the mercy of relatively slow EPS coverage for certain expensive and optional procedures, and for certain drugs -- or else paying cash/credit for faster, broader services and broader drug options.

Still, people in the prepaid insurance system also must buy a complimentary EPS policy -- which effectively helps subsidize the cost of coverage for millions of others stuck in EPS networks.

As for the “subsidized” EPS sector (mainly for indigents), the top three EPS networks in the Ministry study were Associação Mutual Ser Empresa ESS; Caja de Compensacion Familiar de la Guajira; and Asociacion Mutual Barrios Unidos de Quibdo, according to the ministry report .

In all, the top 13 EPS networks in the contributive sector were (in order):

1. Suramericana EPS
2. Sanitas EPS
3. Aliansalud EPS
4. Nueva EPS
5. Compensar EPS
6. Salud Total EPS
7. EPS Famisanar
8. Saludvida EPS
9. Coomeva EPS
10. Servicio Occidental de Salud EPS
11. Comfenalco Valle EPS
12. Cruz Blanca EPS
13. Cafesalud EPS

The top 10 EPS’s in the subsidized sector were:


1. Asociacion Mutual Ser
2. CCF de la Guajira
3. Ambuq ARS
4. Coosalud EPS
5. Comfacor
6. Comfaoriente
7. Comfasucre
8. CCF Cajacopi Atlantico
9. Emdisalud ESS
10. Ecoopsos ESS


For the study, health-services consumers were asked to rate companies by 51 indicators, with 24 indicators relating to the opportunity to receive certain services, 19 relating to relative satisfaction with services, and eight relating to the ease-of-access to services.

However, a relatively high ranking as indicated in the Ministry study doesn’t mean that all patients are happy with health services. On the contrary: Many of the more-complex, more-expensive health services and certain high-cost drugs aren’t readily available in EPS networks, or at least not very timely.

What’s worse, hospitals and clinics that provide such EPS services too often face enormous delays in reimbursement -- with past-due bills running into the billions of dollars (see Medellin Herald stories in the “hospitals, health and insurance” subcategory under the “Antioquia” main category).

As a result, various hospitals and clinics around Colombia have at times been forced to delay paying wages to hospital workers and vendors – in certain cases, for months at a time. Some hospitals have been shuttered permanently.

What’s more, several national EPS networks have gone bankrupt or have drastically reduced services in many areas, as income simply hasn’t been anywhere near enough to cover expenses -- or (in certain cases) mismanagement and corruption have destroyed the business.

Published in Health & Insurance. Written by January 03 2017 0

Editor's Note: The following article -- originally authored in Spanish by Colombia Ministry of Health economist Jhon Gonzalez Lindarte -- is reprinted by special permission granted to Medellin Herald by El Pulso, the monthly newsletter published by Medellin-based San Vicente Fundacion.

Published in Health & Insurance. Written by November 21 2016 0

Medellin’s hospital, clinic and dental sector enjoys an expanding reputation for high quality and relatively low prices -- which explains why an increasing number of resident expats and medical tourists come here for all sorts of surgical procedures.

Published in Health & Insurance. Written by October 25 2016 0

On the heels of finalizing a US$50 million strategic investment deal with U.S.-based Christus Health last month, Colombian health insurer and clinic operator Coomeva is moving to rationalize its service network and shore-up its financially troubled “Coomeva EPS” subsidiary.

Published in Health & Insurance. Written by June 20 2016 0

At a June 17 press conference at the World Economic Forum in Medellin, Coca-Cola FEMSA (Latin America) CEO John Santa Maria joined with PepsiCo Latin America CEO Laxman Narasimhan and Postobon (Colombia) president Miguel Escobar in unveiling a nationwide “Healthy Future” campaign aiming to educate consumers on diet and exercise regimes to avoid obesity.

Published in Health & Insurance. Written by February 19 2016 0

New York’s world-famous Mount Sinai Hospital announced February 18 that it has finalized a “clinical alliance” deal with Medellin-based San Vicente Fundacion (SVF), aiming to “transform access to health care for communities within Latin America.”

Published in Health & Insurance. Written by November 09 2015 0

Thanks to big investments recently in hospital/clinic infrastructure, high technology, multinational training, prestigious certifications and new international alliances, metro Medellin is broadening its reputation as a destination for “international medicine” -- as opposed to just “medical tourism,” the latter often perceived as relatively simple plastic surgery or dental work.

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About Medellin Herald

Medellin Herald is a locally produced, English-language news and advisory service uniquely focused upon a more-mature audience of visitors, investors, conference and trade-show attendees, property buyers, expats, retirees, volunteers and nature lovers.

U.S. native Roberto Peckham, who founded Medellin Herald in 2015, has been residing in metro Medellin since 2005 and has traveled regularly and extensively throughout Colombia since 1981.

Medellin Herald welcomes your editorial contributions, comments and story-idea suggestions. Send us a message using the "contact" section.

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