Friday, March 17, 2006

Away in a manger...

If Jesus was born in Israel today, and Mary didn't have enough shekels to pay the hospital...(after being turned away from two other hospitals)what would happen? Apparently, he would be held hostage.

This from the Guardian today:

"Israel's justice ministry is deciding whether to prosecute a Jerusalem hospital that held a new-born baby for two months as collateral because its mother was unable to pay her bill.
The ministry intervened last week to force the Moqassed hospital in East Jerusalem to give the infant to its mother and is examining whether to charge it with false imprisonment.

The mother, who is an Arab but has not been named, gave birth to triplets prematurely in January. As the children's father is a Palestinian resident of the West Bank, the hospital demanded payment of 10,000 shekels (£1,250) because it said it was not certain of recovering the costs of treating the babies from Israel's national insurance fund even though their mother is a legal resident of Jerusalem.

When the woman said she was unable to pay, the hospital said it would keep one of the three children, a girl, as a "guarantee" until the money was found.

Earlier this month the parents went to the justice ministry. The head of its legal aid office, Eyal Globus, said he investigated their claim and found it to be correct.

"It turned out that things were exactly as the mother said they were; the third baby was being held," he told Haaretz newspaper. "This is not the first time that the hospital has kept babies as hostages for payment of debts."

The ministry ordered the release of the baby and said it would ensure the insurance fund reimbursed the hospital. The hospital declined to comment.

The woman's family told Haaretz that she was turned away from two other Israeli hospitals because she was unable to pay a deposit of about £40,000 before being admitted."

(Does this story sort of remind you of something that happened in a manger once? Anyway, now we know what would happen if Jesus was born today - he'd still be in the hospital until Mary could cough up the shekels. Or maybe the three kings would foot the bill?)

Note: this story has a happy ending since the ministry is paying the insurance and reimbursing the hospital. But I had the same problem when my twins were born prematurely in the US, and there was never any question about the hospital keeping one of the twins hostages until we cold pay off the bill, which came to nearly a quarter of a million dollars, BTW.

Moral of the story:
Is there a moral here? Can you think of one?


Jona said...

Blimey, I complain about the cost of milk and bread here, but at least having babies is free. And to hold a baby like that is abhorrent!

Virenda said...

HOLY HELL. That is just disgusting and awful that they would do that. I can't even imagine the horror and emotional pain as a mom, she had to go through before she could get her baby back. I'm going to have nightmares. That is awful. AWFUL!

Wynn Bexton said...

It's absolutely disgusting. I'd like to say more but I'm afraid I'd rant on and on. Aren't hospitals supposed to be staffed with compassionate people? I guess it depends on your religious beliefs and the color of your skin.

jurassicpork said...

Oh, yeah. That'll help dispel stereotypes about Jews and money.