By: Gerome Dalipe
The Commission on Audit (COA) has asked provincial hospital chiefs to formulate policies and controls on waiving the unpaid bills of indigent patients.
The state auditors also asked the hospital chiefs to coordinate with the Capitol’s Internal Audit Services in the formulation of new policies “to avoid biases in providing adequate health care services particularly to the indigents.”
“The waiver should be subject to certain criteria and approval of the chief of hospital, considering the latter has the responsibilities to plan and direct the implementation of policies pertaining to administrative and financial management and operations of the hospital,” read the COA report.
In its annual report in 2018, the auditors said the hospitals’ lack of policies in waiving or writing off the hospital bills resulted in questionable waived bills.
“The above circumstance showed the 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 of 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.
This discrepancy arose despite the P433.70-million the Provincial Government loaned for the hospital enhancement program and for the construction of the Capitol building.
“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.
Verification of the statement of accounts showed that some district hospitals required the approval of their hospital chiefs on the waiver of patients’ unpaid balance.
Majority of waived bills did not pass the hospitals’ chiefs but ended with the Social Welfare Office.
The basis and criteria in charging unpaid bills to charity revealed that they did not have established policies or guidelines.
“The above circumstance showed the absence of control mechanism to ascertain the propriety of discharging patients with unpaid bill balance,” the auditors said.
While auditors understood their indigent patients, provincial hospitals were extending free hospitalization by waiving the unpaid bill balance after compliance to all requirements.
Likewise, the auditors asked the hospital chiefs to coordinate with the welfare offices and Capitol’s Internal Audit Services to formulate and establish policies on the waiver of the unpaid balance.