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$55 million in PMH bills ‘unpayable’

Roughly $55 million in patient bills were deemed unpayable at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) between July 2017 and February 2018, a recent Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) document revealed.

The document notes that the government billed $64,063,223 at the hospital between July 27, 2017 and February 28, 2018.

However, the hospital only collected 13 percent or $8,499,703 of that amount.

Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday that the remaining $55,563,520 is “unpayable” under the government’s existing policies because the costs were incurred by uninsured members of the public, individuals on welfare and police-related-cases.

“The policy is the exemption of huge cohorts of patients [including] young, old, civil servants, et cetera,” he said.

“Even though we the public now buy health insurance, for many the old rules that exempted persons still apply.

“Even as we capitalize South Florida hospitals to the tune of many millions per annum, we choke our healthcare system.”

According to the document, cases brought in by police officers totaled a little over $312,000 and cases brought in by uninsured members of the public totaled $25 million.

Welfare cases, which were subsidized by the government, accounted for nearly $2 million

Sands said, “At the end of the day, we have a policy decision that has been taken for many years that patients should not pay the economic cost of care.

“As such, even though it costs $216 million to provide care in the Public Hospitals Authority, the maximum that will be billed is less than $90 million.

“Then, of the $90 million or so that’s billed, current policy is such that almost 90 percent of that is deemed uncollectible because patients are either unable to pay, do not pay or are exempted from paying, hence the return of the public investment of about five percent.”

While roughly $40 million was billed by the hospital in the first six months of 2018, Sands said only $5.8 million in revenue was collected during that period.

A snapshot of the hospital’s patient charges shows that, in 2017, nearly 48,000 patients racked up bills totaling nearly $77 million.

Asked how much of that was collected by PMH, the minister said, “Certainly around $10 million is what our PHA collection is on an annual basis.”

He said the PHA is expected to collect between $11 million and $12 million this year.

Sands said the numbers illustrate the need for a system to be implemented with the aim of improving billing and collection at the hospital.

 “It is why we are implementing a system to improve billing,” he said.

“We are recruiting staff, putting in place the billing and IT system and training persons to code. We are also building a new patient registration area.”

Last week, Sands said the Ministry of Health proposed the introduction of revised fees in the healthcare system that would go into effect on July 1, which would provide $40 million in annual revenue for the public health system.

Jasper Ward

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues.
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice
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