Tell it to SunStar: Hospital or prison?

ON March 26 my daughter was hospitalized; on Maundy Thursday she was dismissed by the doctor. Bill: P80,000.

The billing section expected me to pay cash or at least half and deposit a land title or car papers as collateral and sign a promissory note. Otherwise my daughter had to stay in the hospital until full payment were done. Of course every day would cause additional charges.

This is a revolting imposition, illegal detention, deprivation of liberty without a judge’s warrant and a grave infraction to human rights. It is worse than imprisonment for a prisoner lives on the cost of society and gets free food.

Fortunately my daughter managed to escape.

How could the hospital expect that I, as a foreigner, possess a land title? The constitution prohibits me from owning land in PH. Since I am old I have no more car for I do not dare driving in that frenzy on Cebu’s streets.

Since at the end of the month I had not much cash, I ordered money from my bank account in Germany. But the employees were in holidays already until Easter Monday. On Tuesday I could withdraw money by VISA-Card, but limited to P20,000. So it takes four days to gather P80,000. I briefed the billing section by a messenger that I will pay the full amount on Saturday. I would not go there personally, for I am afraid they would detain me too. How then could I withdraw the remaining debt?

I am lucky in comparison to majority of Filipinos who are victimized by this outrageous injustice and infraction to the constitution that guaranties them their inviolable citizen’s right of freedom and liberty.

I appeal to the law makers to revisit Republic Act 9439 of 2007 signed by President Gloria Macapagal –Arroyo, “prohibiting detention of patients in hospitals…on grounds of nonpayment of hospital bills..upon the execution of a promissory note covering the unpaid obligation. The promissory note shall be secured by either a mortgage or by a guarantee of a co-maker, who will be jointly and severally be liable with the patient for the unpaid obligation…”

This changes nothing. No bank will give a mortgage to a panday nor will a saleslady find a co-maker. The law doesn’t’ state what will happen then: illegal detention, kidnapping and extortionate hostage-taking, I suppose.

One solution is an obligatory health insurance for every citizen as we have in Germany and other modern countries for many decades. Many Filipinos of the middle class have registered already with Insurance companies. But the poor cannot spare the monthly contribution.

The far better solution is free health care for all Filipinos. The Philippines can espouse the way that nations such as Brunei, Kuwait, the United Kingdom and others offer to their citizens: universal free health insurance by the state.

When the National Health Care System was introduced in UK in 1946, some subjects of the queen abused it by applying for a new eyeglass every six months etc. Soon the allocated funds risked to run out. The British government appealed to reason with the, “Eat your cake and have it.” It worked.

Filipinos are mature enough to eat that cake without eating it up prematurely. --Erich Wannemacher
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