Capitol-run hospitals lack policy on unpaid bills – COA

By: Gerome Dalipe

SEVERAL district hospitals being managed by the Iloilo Provincial Government failed to collect payments from their patients, state auditors found.

The culprit? It’s the lack of policies and proper authority in waiving unpaid balances of patients’ bills in various district hospitals.

This discrepancy arose despite the P433.70 million the Provincial Government loaned to the hospital enhancement program and to the construction of the Capitol building.

In its annual report on Iloilo in 2018, the Commission on Audit (COA) cited the failure of some district hospitals to establish policies on the waiving of hospital bills that resulted in questionable waived bills.

“The above circumstance showed absence of control mechanism to ascertain the propriety of discharging patients with unpaid bill balance,” read the COA report.

A review of the breakdown of revenues in the Hospitals’ Statistical Report Summary for the first quarter of 2018 showed several unpaid hospital bills that were waived.

Likewise, verification of the statement of accounts also stated that some district hospitals required the approval of the hospital chief on the waiver of patients’ unpaid balance dues to PhilHealth and other medical assistance were deducted.

But the provincial hospitals failed to establish policies or guidelines in charging unpaid bills to charity, the auditors said.

“They just continued the hospital practices that were passed on by their predecessors. Also, there was no proper accounting of all waived unpaid bills,” the auditors said.

While the indigents’ bills may be waived, the auditors stressed that waiving of the patients’ bills should pass certain criteria.

The waiver should be subjected to certain criteria and approval of the hospital heads based on policies pertaining to administrative and financial management and operations of the hospital.

In the report, the auditors asked the governor to direct the Hospital Management Office and the hospital administrations to formulate policies and controls on the waiver of unpaid hospital bills.

The hospital chiefs are also urged to coordinate with the Capitol’s Internal Audit Services in formulating the policies and controls on the waiver of unpaid hospital bills to avoid biases in providing health care services particularly to the indigents.