Free hospitalization for poor Cebuanos before year-end
Cebuanos will start availing the services of outpatient department, dental, emergency room, laboratory, delivery and operating rooms and wards of province-owned hospitals free of charge before the year ends.
Gov. Hilario Davide III said he will be signing the ordinance that will amend the revenue code of the province and provide free hospital services to all poor and indigent patients.
The provincial board unanimously passed in its third and final reading yesterday the ordinance to amend the provision of the province’s Revenue Code of 2008, which set the rates for the services availed in government hospitals.
“This has been taken up because of the requests of our indigent constituents. However, we cannot just change it because naa man sa Revenue Code. Naka-itemize man gyod sya nga you have to pay for this when you avail of this,” said Vice Governor Agnes Magpale, chair of the Provincial Board.
Provincial Health Office head Dr. Rene Catan, who was invited by the provincial board to join the discussion on the ordinance, said the provincial hospitals will only lose about two to six percent or up to P8 million of their total annual income of close to P300 million once the amendment is implemented.
Catan, however, said the loss will be “easily recovered” if they are able to improve the efficiency of their collection from PhilHealth.
“The over P200 million collection from PhilHealth is still on 60-70 percent collection efficiency. How much more if we improve our collections?” Catan said.
Catan said that the hospital will have a group focused on processing documents for PhilHealth claims in order to make their collections more effective.
“The convincing factor I think was when Dr. Catan said na the revenue lost will only be this – about P8 million. What is P8 million if we compare it to the kind of services that we can give to the people,” Magpale said.
But how will the hospital staff determine an “indigent” patient?
Categorizing indigency, according to Catan, is another gray area in the old Revenue Code that will be repealed by the amending ordinance.
In the old Revenue Code, patients are categorized with their capacity to pay.
But Catan said that with the new ordinance, all patients shall be treated indigent and will not be charged unless he will avail of private accommodation.
“However, any patient who availed of the free hospital services but later chooses to be transferred to a private accommodation shall lose the above-stated privileges and thus, from the time of transfer to a private accommodation other than the charity ward, the regular hospital fees shall be imposed,” an excerpt of the ordinance reads.
This provision shall not apply if the decision to take private accommodation is not the will of the patient but that of the attending physician.
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