There will be no interruption of services for cancer patients, Ecuador’s Social Security Institute (IESS) said Monday. IESS health division officials said that arrangements are being made to pay a debt to the Solca cancer foundation, which provides treatment services to IESS.
In a statement last week, Solca said it may end services to IESS if a debt dating back to November of 2021 is not paid. Solca, which operates cancer hospitals in Guayaquil, Quito, Cuenca and other cities, said the debt amounted to tens-of-millions of dollars. “Unless there is immediate action on past due payments from the government, Solca will no longer be able to provide services,” the statement said. “Our outreach to IESS officials regarding this matter has been ignored.”
IESS acknowledged the debt and said it will meet with Solca officials Thursday “to find a solution to the problem.” IESS said there have been delays in the audit process of Solca billing statements and that it plans to expedite the process.
On Monday, the IESS press office assured cancer patients that their care will continue. “IESS patients with oncological diseases will continue to receive medical care in Solca as well as in Social Security medical units,” the office said. “The issues raised by Solca will be resolved and our partnership with them will continue.”
Late payments are an ongoing issue between private providers and the IESS health system. In 2021, private hospitals and doctors refused to treat IESS patients in more than 2,000 cases due to unpaid bills. IESS routinely refers patients to private providers when it cannot provide service itself. In most cases, IESS officials say payment issues are resolved and patient treatment is not affected.
Ecuador Vice President Alfredo Borrero heads a committee to find solutions to the debt crisis. “It is essential that the government pay its debts to private health contractors since their services to IESS are essential,” he said. “As a private physician myself, I understand the urgency of solving this problem.”