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Feb 11, 2016

Finance Director Says G.O.B. Subsidy Does Not Cover K.H.M.H. Costs

Norman Augustine Jr.

The hospital’s large debt accumulated over the years, in part because patients often do not pay their bills. The K.H.M.H. has thus embarked on a campaign to tighten up on collection asking patients to invest in their health care. Augustine says that while government provides subsidy, it is still not enough to cover the wide range of services provided at the K.H.M.H.

 

Norman Augustine Jr., Director of Finance, K.H.M.H.

“For the past six years, it showed consistently that we have only collected forty percent of what was billed out to patients. That is a very concerning situation. So what we have done is that in-house, we have developed our own collection unit that has a more assertive and soft approach, more user friendly approach in dealing with the patients. We have launched a test on our maternity ward and it is amazing the things that we have come to find out. I mean patients do come in to deliver baby without any expectation of making any payment. So it is also a cultural issue that we have been addressing.”

 

Marleni Cuellar

“So there is an expectation that the service is free?”

 

Norman Augustine Jr.

“It is. So what we have been doing is an education campaign. I’m sure you have seen the ad on the media and the news that we are promoting that K.H.M.H. is here to provide a very critical service. All we are asking is for the patients to pay their bills. That campaign will continue on to encourage and to educate the public that it is important for you to pay your bill. I mean if we get our water bill, we pay it; if we get our light bill, we pay it. Why is it that our health is not as important as our water, as our cable, as our phone bill? So our campaign is working; it is a slow process, but it is there that we will be…at this point, the patients actually, because of the billings structure, they are billed about twenty percent of what it actually costs to provide the service. The government then provides the additional eighty percent through subvention. Now because the patients are only paying forty percent, it then puts an additional strain on the government whereby the government is meeting a ninety percent cost of the institution and the patient, because of what they actually pay in cash, is only meeting ten percent. That has to change.  And we are not asking for a lot of money you know. And it is not all the services because a gunshot victim that comes in incurs a bill between eight thousand to ten thousand dollars. And they walk away not paying that. That is left in the hands of the government, of you the taxpayers.”

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1 Response for “Finance Director Says G.O.B. Subsidy Does Not Cover K.H.M.H. Costs”

  1. Moses Benguche says:

    Belizeans are historically welded to the pre-Independence colonial system where healthcare was free. In most third world countries payment is demanded up front. Bedding and supplies used such as cotton, food etc. are pay as you go. Its too late to break Belizeans out of the habit of not paying for public health care service. I suggest that the government should add a small tax to all consumer goods which would pay for universal healthcare. Most Belizeans, gang victims who shoot each other, drunk drivers, baby mamas having babies, are too poor to put aside money for healthcare. They live “hand to mouth”. They have no concept or don’t care that the service they receive cost money. Every worker pays into social security; they should also pay into a health care fund.

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