Samoa Health Service Announces Hospital Fee Increases

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General visits, inpatient and admittance costs to be raised

By Pai Mulitalo ‘Ale

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Jan. 7, 2014) – A visit to the hospital in Samoa will cost you more, starting from Monday next week.

That is when the latest increase to hospital fees will come into effect, with the general visit to a doctor doubling in price to WST$10 [US$4.23] per patient.

According to a notice from the National Health Service (NHS), in addition to the increase in consultation fees which were previously free of charge, they will now incur a cost – with general X-rays and laboratory services now WST$5 [US$2.19] each.

"Inpatient fees shall be 30 tala [US$12.71] per night at Tupua Tamasese Meaole National Hospital at Moto'otua, 15 tala [US$6.36] per admission episode at Malietoa Tanumafili II Hospital in Savai'i, and 10 tala per admission episode at all other district hospitals," the notice reads.

The notice does, however, say that certain groups will be exempted from paying the above fees.

"All children aged below 15 years," it reads. "All elderly people aged 65 years and above, who are registered with the NPF Pensioner’s scheme. (They) must bring current ID to qualify for exemption.

"All women presenting for maternal health conditions, such as for all care related to pregnancy, childbirth and post-natal period.

"(And) Persons with special needs, (although) special conditions apply for registration."

The notice says the full revised list of fees and charges are posted at various service areas of the main hospitals at Moto’otua, and Tuasivi and all district hospitals and medical centers.

"Please note there are separate charges for non-Samoan Citizens and non-residents," it reads.

"Exemptions as stated above do not apply to non-citizens and nonresidents."

The NHS General Manager Leota Laki Sio was contacted for comment, but was unavailable at the time of press.

However, he did speak about the issue during an interview with the Samoa Observer in August last year.

He said then the public are protected under the proposed NHS Act 2013 and there are provisions in place to ensure NHS maintains its social responsibility to the public.

Part VII of the 2006 Act discusses the fees and charges that the public currently pay to the NHS and states that the (Health) Minister is to determine the costs.

"The Minister by Notice may determine fees and charges concerning any matter under or concerning this Act and for any goods or services provided by the Service," the Act reads.

"Or for any goods or services funded by or through the Service and provided by another person or body, and provide for the time and manner of payment of any fee or charge determined under this section.

"The Minister shall consult with the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry, the Board, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Finance, concerning any proposed fees and charges and their anticipated effects and consequences.

"Subject to section 21, any fee or charge determined under this section shall be nonrefundable unless the Minister determines otherwise.

"Any Notice under this section shall be published in Samoan and English in the Savali and one other newspaper circulating in Samoa."

Leota said this section of the act does not allow the NHS to take control of the fees and charges.

In June 2012, Tautua Economic Spokesperson Afualo Dr Wood Salele criticised the fee increase saying they will make "the rich richer and the poor poorer." He said at the time that these increases were "just another form of tax."

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