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House passes bill compelling hospitals to display price list

Press Release
March 28, 2011

QUEZON CITY  Ė  The House of Representatives has passed on third and final reading a bill that seeks to mandate hospitals and other healthcare providers to clearly display in their premises a full price list of their services and products.

The compulsory posting of an exact price list under the proposed Healthcare Services Price Disclosure Act would cover hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, diagnostic and laboratory clinics, medical offices and related facilities, including those providing dental services.

The displayed price schedule would be binding on the healthcare provider upon the patientís admission, and any price increase would take effect only after proper posting.

"The measure gives more meaning to the State's avowed policy in The Consumer Act to protect the interests and general welfare of buyers, and to establish the fair standards of conduct for business and industry," said House Deputy Majority Leader Roman Romulo, the billís author.

An absolutely transparent and readily available price index would safeguard consumers against misleading and unfair sales acts and practices, said Romulo, who represents the lone district of Pasig City in Congress.

"This will also facilitate sound choice by end users of hospitalization and other healthcare services," he said.

Romulo pointed out that patients invariably get billed for the flimsiest expense while being treated in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

He added: "In some cases, without their prior knowledge, patients even get charged for the extra cotton balls or toilet paper they use in the hospital."

A complete price list, to include all incidental charges for room and amenities, meals, medicines, and use of medical equipment and technology, would enable patients to compare costs and freely decide where best to obtain the services or supplies that they need, according to Romulo.

"For instance, once the patient becomes aware that he could get charged for hospital toilet paper that is five times more expensive, then he might just opt to bring his own supply," he said.

Romulo's bill requires the posting of the price catalogue in a conspicuous place within the healthcare providerís grounds.

Violators face fines up to P25,000 per instance, without prejudice to administrative sanctions such as the suspension of their professional licenses for up to 60 days.

If the offender is a firm, it faces a fine up to P50,000 per instance, plus suspension of its license to operate for up to 60 days. The firm's officers directly responsible for the infraction also face fines and suspension of their licenses.