LAW EACH WEEK
If patients can’t pay, can they be detained? RA 9439, otherwise known as AN ACT PROHIBITING THE DETENTION OF PATIENTS IN HOSPITALS AND MEDICAL CLINICS ON GROUNDS OF NONPAYMENT OF HOSPITAL BILLS OR MEDICAL EXPENSES, makes it unlawful for any hospital or medical clinic, for reasons of non-payment of bills, to detain or cause the detention of any patient who:
- Have fully recovered;
- Have partially recovered;
- Have been adequately attended to; or
- Who may have died.
So, if you are a hospital patient who can’t settle your bill yet, however, you wish to go home, what do you need to do for the hospital to permit you to leave?
- First, you execute a promissory note.
- This note has to be secured by a mortgage or must be guaranteed by a co-maker.
- Then give this to the hospital.
If you already have done the steps above, then you should be able to leave the hospital. Take note that you also have the right to demand the issuance of a medical certificate, and other pertinent papers. If the patient has died, the relatives will still have to comply with the same steps above, and will have the right to demand the issuance of a death certificate and other pertinent papers as well.
Is this applicable to everyone? No.
If a patient stayed in a private room in the hospital, they will not be able to invoke the rights provided for by RA 9439. In other words, only those who stayed in public wards are covered by RA 9439. Staying in a private room presupposes you have money to pay your bills, and also, it would be unfair to the hospital or medical clinic if you would avail of their private rooms, which are primarily intended for profit, only for you to leave without paying. RA 9439 keeps the scales of justice balanced.