Hospitalized Scottish Man Speaks About UK News Report

Phnom Penh: The partner of British national Anthony Igoe, 31 has spoken to CNE about the misrepresentation published in the Scottish newspaper The Daily Record. “I am not happy they put words in my mouth” she said, “We are not spreading fake news and we love Cambodia.”

“We would like to stress the fact that the hospital he is in has really done everything possible to help us in contacting Cigna Global (*the insurance company) and has even given us a small discount to help us pay the bills out of pocket. The Khmer people have been nothing but nice to us. We are happy to have Anthony stay in the hospital he is in where he has good, highly professional and ethical care, where the cleanliness is grreat and most impotant, he is able to get good quality treatment and medicines we can trust. Cambodia may not have NHHS but the people do have hearts of gold ; they are welcoming and try to help wherever possible.”

Alana Fonseca, Anthony’s partner, says her story was misquoted by Daily Record, and is concerned the newspaper’s article may create more problems for the couple.

“As you will have read on our GoFundMe page, Anthony was slightly ill in January. Tests were done and an X-Ray showed just a slight infection, common in the winter. He was prescribed antibiotics and vitamins, and recovered quickly. So when we applied for our insurance in February, it wasn’t even something we were thinking about as Anthony had recovered within less than ten days. We were more worried about getting cover due to the new Corona Virus outbreak, which was spreading to Cambodia from the nearby country of China. On the 20th of February,Anthony got a post as teacher at the school where I was working.

By this time, due to the coronavirus scare, we were having our temperatures taken every day in order to enter the building.He never showed any signs of fever or infection during this time, and I stress that to all of us he seemed completely healthy. Another reason why we waited to get insurance was our financial situation. We only managed to get enough funds when we both started working at well paying positions in Cambodia. Anthony started to show signs of being ill half way through March. He developed a continuous cough, which we started to think could be a cough due him quitting smoking at the time.

At the end of March, we first contacted our insurance for advice and they had a doctor call us. We had told them everything but received no indication that we were not covered. We were actually very happy to speak to a doctor and be able to get some insight on what could be wrong. Again the main concern was TB or the coronavirus, both of which he tested negative for before. Due to Covid19 being rampant, we were very scared to go to a doctor straight away – we were afraid to sit in a crowded waiting room or even leave the house with Anthony in the condition he was in. As we had been told in January, he only had a chest infection, so we thought it had just returned.

The last 2 weeks of April were the worst; he lost a lot of weight, and as soon as it was clear that he wasn’t improving, we took our January documents and came to a good clean hospital, which we heard Cigna Global works with. Cigna Global issued a 24h guarantee of payment when the hospital insisted on it, as per their policies. He was admitted into ICU, but this was the last thing they ever did. I am not fully sure they are willing to cover this now. I tried to call many times to contact them daily, multiple times a day in fact. I even got Anthony’s dad to call them from Scotland asking them to get in touch with me, which he did several times. I was simply ignored and told that they couldn’t reach me on my number.

They told Anthony’s dad the same thing. He asked them to take into account the fact there is six hours time difference between the UK and Cambodia, that I was still teaching full-time via Zoom, and so to try to call a few times, not just once and then give up. We of course had had no previous issues with this company before so I found it all a bit strange.

Then they did not tell me we were not covered, not even by email, and it was finally the hospital who had to tell me what was happening with our insurance. After some tests at the hospital, the tests revealed that Anthony had an abscess and a bacterial infection in his left lung called Haemophilus Influenzae together with another bacteria called Burkholderia Pseudomallei which if untreated can cause the illness Melioidosis.

Combined, they caused a co-infection that led to an abscess to form in his lung. To us, this had no connection with what we were told in January. There was no mention whatsoever of any kind of abscess or any of the above mentioned bacteria after all the tests in January. In fact, our the biggest concern then was TB, which he tested negative for.

The hospital Anthony is now in did their very best to communicate with Cigna, but unfortunately all pleas fell onto deaf ears. On the 14th of May, I received one of the extremely infrequent responses from Cigna Global telling me our insurance was not only not going to cover us but we were also having everything revoked.

After calling many times, I was finally able to get through to the person in charge of the case. I was told they were a business, and could not help us in any way because they believed he had had an ongoing condition that went against their policies. I couldn’t understand this at all. I mean we were talking about my partner’s lung here, not a mortgage on a house.

Also if we wanted to hide the fact he was sick in January why would we take the results with us to show the present hospital and why would I have called them at the end of March with the same story? It made no sense to us and it felt like we were being punished for being honest. The last I heard from them is that they promised to make a full customer service investigation. I have asked for the recording of the call I had with the sales person, as I don’t understand which questions pointed towards telling the insurance company that my partner at the time had just got over what seemed like a minor chest infection (something we were under the impression he had completely recovered from).

I have so far heard nothing from the insurance company and so do not keep my hopes up in this matter at all. We would like to stress the fact that the hospital he is in has really done everything possible to help us in contacting Cigna Global and has even given us a small discount to help us pay the bills out of pocket. The Khmer people have been nothing but nice to us. We are happy to have Anthony stay in the hospital he is in where he has good, highly professional and ethical care, has had good nutrition, where the cleanliness is great and most important, he is able to get good quality treatment and medicines we can trust. Cambodia may not have NHS but the people do have hearts made of gold; they are welcoming and try to help wherever possible. I would also like to mention that we had tried a cheaper hospital in January and this is where his case was possibly misdiagnosed. Hence we are doing our very best to keep him here where he is receiving the same level of care that he would likely be receiving at home. Some people have been commenting that the amount we are asking for is too large for Cambodia, but he is being treated in a good hospital and not a public one.

He is in a chronic condition and I refuse to take him somewhere where he might get ill again or not receive the same medication. After being in this hospital for 3 weeks, Anthony has recovered somewhat and in the past few days has been more mobile. He has been fever free for a week, and his abscess has finally shown signs of decreasing in size according to the last tests! This is great news for us and it means the antibiotics are finally taking effect.

The doctors are very hopeful that he will be able to stay one more week on the intravenous antibiotics, and then they will keep him for another 3 days under observation, with only oral antibiotics. That would make it a full month being hospitalised, and he will hopefully be back at home by the 2nd or June. After he is finally released from hospital, we will have to ensure he continues with his rehabilitation and he will continue to take oral antibiotics for a minimum of 6 months or so.

We are not sure when he will be able to travel and to be honest we are not sure it is a good idea now with the pandemic around the globe. We would be extremely concerned about the recycled air inside the plane cabin, and the necessity of transferring from one flight to another. If he showed signs of illness or temperature he would not be allowed to board his onward flight, and so would risk being stranded. He will have to also check his lung routinely every 6 months to a year to make sure everything has cleared.

However we are stuck without insurance and worse off. I am not even sure if we could get covered with him needing so much care, so we are very scared right now and we just hope everything works for the best. Lastly we would like to say we were definitely angry with Cigna Global at first, because we are not used to having our health and wellbeing treated like “a business” as the representative put it on our last call.

However after having much thought put into it, we have come to realise, that it is their decision to have this mindset; we understand that this is how they make their money, although we do not agree with the coldness and harshness of it. We both now understand how to deal with such companies. Instead of showing resentment, we would like to thank our countries Malta and Scotland and be grateful we could grow up with such amazing healthcare .It is very very sad that people around the globe have to deal with companies like this for their health and well-being.”

Both Anthony and Alana would also like to thank people from across the world who have helped them during this difficult time, and especially to the Cambodian people.

One thought on “Hospitalized Scottish Man Speaks About UK News Report

  • May 24, 2020 at 11:09 pm

    So, what exactly is the ‘misquotation’? It’s not the ‘Pay Up or we Remove His Lung’ is it? Because, that’s exactly what the GoFundMe page originally said. In other words: what she originally said. Easy to blame newspapers for wrong reporting (it seems to be in fashion)…


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