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Must pay 10% of unpaid bill prior to treatment

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Jan. 5, 2012) – Patients at American Samoa’s LBJ Hospital are complaining about a new policy which they say has taken them completely by surprise.

Since last weekend, the hospital has been requiring patients to first pay 10 per cent of any unpaid bills from prior treatment or medication before they can be seen by a doctor or be issued prescriptions.

The hospital had not publicized the change.

One man who went to the hospital pharmacy on Saturday to get pills for his son was told that he first had to pay 10 per cent of a 2,000 U.S. dollar debt.

Senior hospital staff said they had not been informed of the new policy and only learned about it when people started complaining.

[PIR editor’s note: American Samoa’s Hospital Authority Board has said the ten percent up-front payment is not a new policy and had been approved in the summer of 2011 but not yet implemented. No media announcements were made. The hospital made the decision to go ahead with the collection, as some patients had allegedly signed promissory agreements to pay off bills but failed in doing so.]

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