According to the Constitution of the Philippines “no one shall be imprisoned for nonpayment of debt or poll tax.” It is common practice in the Philippines to hold patients hostage until their bill is fully paid. I know from personal experience. When you have a guard armed with a shotgun at the exit of a hospital that has to scrutinize your officially paid receipt before you can leave, it does prompt one to pay that bill in full before checking out. A recent column in the Inquirer Lifestyle pointed out that such hospitals are in violation of the Constitution. What can one do if you find yourself with an unpaid balance as you try to leave your Philippines hospital?
Well, according to the Inquirer article, just “petition the court for a writ of habeas corpus. The Court will then order the hospital to explain why it is detaining the patient against his will.” The Inquirer article points out that holding a patient because of their inability to pay the bill in full is tantamount to “imprisonment for nonpayment of debt,” and is prohibited by the Constitution. The patient can write a promissory note and if they fail to pay, the hospital can then file a civil suit to collect what is owed.
In a related issue, the article goes on to say that a bill filed by Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo would require hospitals and other health care providers to prominently display their price lists for services and products. Rep. Romulo states, and I can absolutely relate to this, that patients get billed for almost every item they use during their confinement, including cotton balls, toilet paper, thermometers, and so on. He wants patients to be given the option of buying some of the things they need from outside, where they are cheaper, which is a good idea as long as your visit to the hospital is planned, and not an emergency visit like I had for my kidney stone attack last February.
Well, as you might already be aware, I’m not one that favors Big Government ‘s anywhere to stick their nose where it does not belong, but along with the proposed Simplified Annulment law pending, the bill filed by this Filipino legislator sounds like a good one. I guess when you experience a situation a proposed law seeks to amend, it changes your outlook. I, for one, however, will not try that “writ of habeas corpus” tactic. I don’t know about you, but there’s just something about the business end of a shotgun that will encourage me to pay the bill before I leave any Philippines hospital. No plastic Blue Cross card that I know of is going to stop a shotgun blast!
(P.S. to the guys! I can already guess someone of you might make a comment that you wouldn’t mind being imprisoned in a hospital with a nurse like the one shown in the photo above, but let me beat you to the punch! I hope this makes up for the horrific Octomom photo.)