The chairperson of the health committee of the provincial legislature wants to have a standardized rate matrix for medical doctors’ fees to address the perennial problem of expensive hospitals bills among Palawan residents.
Board Member Eduardo Modesto Rodriguez, Chair of the Health Committee, said the patients do not feel the benefit given by Philippine Health Insurance Cooperation (PhilHealth) because of the expensive medical charges of the medical professionals for which the patients and their folks need to shell out money for.
“Kung mapapansin po natin, sa sobrang taas po ng mga sinisinggil ng ating mga medical professionals halos hindi na po maramdaman yung PhilHealth. Dahil sa epekto nito parang hindi na po maramdaman yung epekto ng PhilHealth lalo na sa mga taong walang-wala,” he said in a stinging privilege speech.
Rodriguez wanted to invite the association of medical professionals to discuss their fees and charges. “Sana ay maipatawag din ang association ng medical professionals, na maibigay yung kung ano ba yung kanilang mga wage,” he said.
Aside from the group, Rodriguez also wanted the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to tell the Sangguniang Panlalawigan if doctors are paying the right taxes. “Kung pwede lang pati BIR [ay ipatawag na din], baka mamaya mataas na naman ang singgil pero hindi naman nagbabayad ng buwis,” he mentioned.
Rodriguez said one of the possible solutions to the high cost of medical care is to standardize the medical rates by medical professionals. “Yung mga pagsinggil na dapat ay ma-istandardize ang lahat ng pagsinggil sa mga pasyente at talagang makita kung ano yung epekto ng PhilHealth dito.”
Rodriguez also lamented that patients are being held by the hospitals until they can settle their bills which causes additional charges for their extended stay adding that even the “No Balance Billing Policy,” which provides that no other fees or expenses shall be charged or be paid for by the indigent patients above and beyond the packaged rates during their confinement period, is not enough.
“Kung mapapansin po natin kahit na may ganoong programa [No Balance Billing Policy], nariyaan na po yung pagtutulong ng PhilHealth, naryaan ang pagtutulong ng Provincial Government, naryaan na po yung DSWD. Kulang na kulang pa din at napakalaki pa din ng bayaran ng pasyente,” he said.
Board Member Winston Arzaga, said that the high cost of medical bill is a perennial problem in the Province of Palawan. He mentioned that there is a pending request for the Regional Director of the Department of Health in charge of hospital operations to appear before the legislative body for the board members to be able to find out the extent of what the hospitals can charge especially among indigent patients. The Philippine Medical Association is also invited to explain as to the maximum fee in particular medical practitioner can charge a patient.
Arzaga also said that the patients can go to the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office for assistance. “As you all know election ban has set in already, we can no longer provide the necessary financial assistance for medical requirements. So, I think the only course know for our patients is to proceed to the PCSO for assistance,” he mentioned.
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan approved the motion and will invite the concerned agencies: representative of the PCSO, the Regional Director of DOH in-charge of hospital operations, representative of PhilHealth, representative of the Philippine Medical Association in Palawan, representative of BIR, the Provincial Information Officer, representative of the Malasakit Center, representative of the Southern and Northern Provincial Hospitals, and the representative of the Ospital ng Palawan.