IN THE KNOW: Anti-Hospital Deposit Law
ALL HEALTH facilities, whether government-owned or private, are prohibited from refusing persons seeking medical help or from detaining them for nonpayment of hospital bills or medical expenses.
It is unlawful for any hospital or medical clinic to refuse administering to patients treatment and support that could prevent their death or permanent disability, according to Republic Act No. 8344, also known as the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law.
The law, approved on Aug. 25, 1997, also prohibits “request, solicit, demand or accept any deposit or any other form of advance payment as a prerequisite for confinement or medical treatment of a patient.”
If the health facility lacks medical capabilities, the attending physician may transfer the patient to a facility where the appropriate care can be given, after the patient or his next of kin consented to the transfer and after the receiving hospital or medical clinic agreed to the transfer, according to RA 8344.
If the patient is unconscious, incapable of giving consent and/or unaccompanied, the doctor can transfer the patient even without his consent, provided that the transfer is done only after necessary emergency treatment and support were administered to stabilize the patient and after it was established that the transfer would entail less risks than the patient’s continued confinement.
The hospital or clinic where the patient will be transferred shall not refuse him nor demand from the patient or his next of kin any deposit or advance payment, the law stated.
Violators of RA 8344 shall be imprisoned for six months to two years and four months, or fined P20,000 to P100,000.
If the violation is committed pursuant to an established policy of the hospital or clinic, or upon instruction of its management, the director or officer of the hospital or clinic responsible for the formulation and implementation of the policy shall be imprisoned of four to six years or fined P100,000 to P500,000.
Republic Act No. 9439, or the Hospital Detention Law, states that health facilities are prohibited from detaining patients who have fully or partially recovered because of nonpayment in part or in full of hospital bills.
A patient, who wants to leave the hospital, shall be issued the corresponding medical certificate and other pertinent papers required for his/her release “upon the execution of a promissory note covering the unpaid obligation.”
In the case of a deceased patient, the corresponding death certificate and other documents required for interment and other purposes shall be released to any of his surviving relatives.
Violators of the law shall be fined P20,000 to P50,000 or imprisoned for one month to six months, or both.
However, RA 9439, approved on April 27, 2007, applies only to charity patients and does not cover patients in private rooms, according to Sen. Pia Cayetano, author of the bill.
Cayetano said the law was a response to the concern of the Philippine Hospital Association that it could be abused by a rich patient pretending to be poor to avoid payment, or by an indigent purposely registering as a paying patient but can’t afford to pay. Inquirer Research
Sources: RA 8344, RA 9439 and Senate.gov.ph
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.