The IThe Ecuadorian Social Security Institute (IESS) has paid $6,620 million between 2013 and 2022 –nine years– to 999 providers external private health
The millionaire figure has been redivided mainly into five provinces: $3,300 million in Guayas, $1,627 million in Pichincha, $689 million in Manabí, $376 million in Azuay, and $83 million in Tungurahua. This is reported by the Institute itself on its website.
The issue has been observed for some years by various analysts as one of the factors that have left the IESS health fund without resources. This fund already has cash problems that lead to a lack of services and medicines as well as claims for non-payment from these private providers.
To Assemblyman Fernando Villavicencio, the issue of patient referrals to private entities is unfortunately involved in a very high corruption plot. Explain that there are many cases of unjustified referrals. That is why he announced that he has opened an investigation agenda, from his own office, to determine these cases of corruption.
Villavicencio comments that, according to his preliminary investigation, the IESS health budget reaches to $1.8 billion, of which $800 million is given to salaries and between $650 million and $700 million go to external health providers, that is, private ones. He explains that referrals occur even when there are abandoned beds in the IESS. For this reason, he maintains that there are health operators in the IESS in collusion with private companies to make referrals. He recounts that, to cite an example, a dental patient from the IESS was referred to undergo interventions on three dental pieces, but at the time of settlement it turns out that they performed intervention on 20 dental pieces.
He comments that it is also essential to investigate all the purchase of medical supplies at the IESS and that people who have identified them are also involved in this issue.
For Villavicencio, it is important that the President of the Republic, Guillermo Lasso, has said that he is not going to privatize the IESS; however, he considers that the IESS, at least in the area of health, it is already privatized. Therefore, for him what corresponds at this time “is to dismantle the corruption network in these derivations and, in this way, rather deprivatize the IESS.”
Indeed, the first president, Guillermo Lasso, mentioned the situation of the IESS in an interview he gave to journalist Milton Pérez on Sunday. The president said that the IESS is not going to be privatized, and that the recommendations made by the members of a newly formed commission to elaborate a reform to the pension system will be presented to the President of the Republic and this will serve for a debate at the level of the society. Lasso indicated that affiliates can have absolute peace of mind that the IESS is not going to be privatized. In any case, he commented that no one agrees with the quality of the insurance service.
In the same interview, he had also mentioned that there are problems with referrals, but in the public sector. He said that when he visited the Eugenio Espejo hospital, the doctors told him that there was only 85% occupancy of its installed capacity, and that the immense capacity they have in laboratories was not used either. This, he said, was because referrals were made to private individuals.
Villavicencio reported that for months he has been preparing an agenda to investigate a series of irregularities in the IESS and the Biess, in the last fifteen years. One of the issues would be precisely this of the derivations.
Additionally, the investigation of the trusts subscribed by the Biess and investments made in the Pañacocha project, Toachi Pilatón, which have been questioned, has begun. Explain that there are 41 trusts that are being observed because they have not met the objectives and that would have meant a loss of around $400 million for Social Security.
And the third component that will be investigated is that of the State debt to the IESS. Also from the first approaches he has had to documents, He said that the debt would amount to $10,000 million, of these $7,000 million correspond to health and $3,000 million to 40% of the State contribution to the IESS. These issues will be presented as part of the Anti-Corruption Parliamentary Front because, according to what he said, in the Oversight Commission the correísta members and the assembly member María Belén Cordero limit their power to present new investigative topics. (YO)
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