Credit card payments not accepted at PGH? | Inquirer Opinion
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Credit card payments not accepted at PGH?

A close relative of ours in Quezon City who is over 60 years of age recently had her vaccine shots. But some weeks later, and contrary to expectations, she was found positive for COVID-19. It was so severe that she needed to be hospitalized. Her son drove her around as they looked for any hospital in Quezon City that would admit her. None could be found. He had no choice but to bring her back home.

On the second day of her illness, her son brought her to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) in Manila and got her “waitlisted” at the ER, which was already full. On the third day, she finally got a room, but her condition so deteriorated that she was immediately “waitlisted” for admission to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), which was also full.

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At around noon of the fourth day, her son inquired how much was required to get his mother admitted to the ICU the moment a vacancy would occur. No information came until way past 6 in the evening, when he was told that the bill was over a hundred thousand pesos. He didn’t have that kind of money on him, so would PGH accept his credit card, the credit limit of which was more than enough to cover the bill? He got the shock of his life: PGH does not accept credit cards, only cash!

A vacancy in the ICU finally occurred later that evening. But no hard currency, no admission to the ICU was the final word. The son only had P20,000 with him at that time, and he tearfully pleaded with the hospital because banks were already closed. Had people in charge of billing informed him much earlier that only cash payment would do, he would have had no problem getting the money from the bank before it closed.

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Private hospitals do allow settlement of bills through credit cards. So why can’t PGH, a public hospital funded mainly by taxpayer money? Perhaps because a lot of its patients are not able to pay after treatment, hence it needs to be “segurista”? But PGH’s losses are practically covered and insured by Congress, which appropriates taxpayer money to keep it going no matter what. On top of that, it is constantly the recipient of hundreds of millions in donations from philanthropists here and abroad. It’s really no skin off its back if destitute patients abscond.

There is a hard and inconvenient lesson to be learned here for those not familiar with PGH protocols. Anyone taking any sick relative to PGH that could potentially require ICU treatment had better bring along a bagful of hard cash because the country’s premier public hospital appears to have not heard of the payment facility known as credit cards.

Stephen L. Monsanto, [email protected]

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TAGS: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Credit Card, Hospitals, PGH, vaccination
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