Hospital encourages those in need to take advantage of “sliding scale” program
LBJ Medical Center is encouraging all residents of American Samoa who need financial assistance in paying their medical bills to take advantage of the “sliding scale program”, which is subject to income verification.
The percentage amount which is paid under this program ranges from 10 percent to 100 percent, and depends on annual income and the number of persons in a family unit.
For example, if the patient’s (or applicant’s) annual income is $4,237 with one family member, the patient pays only 10 percent of the total medical bill; but if the person’s income is $9,885 annually with one family member, the patient pays 75% of the medical bill. However, a patient earning $11,298 annually with one-family member pays the entire 100% of the medical bill.
According to a copy of the sliding scale program obtained by Samoa News, the program was first established in 2006 by LBJ management offering financial assistance to non-resident patients who are responsible for fully charged medical services. However, the hospital authority modified the program in October last year, and offered a sliding scale to both resident and non-resident patients with financial difficulties regarding charged medical services.
Sen. Velega Savali Jr. provided similar information during Monday’s Senate session after obtaining a copy of the program over the weekend from individuals at LBJ. He said this program — which depends on a person’s income and number of family members in a household — should be of a great help to those individuals visiting the hospital. Velega provided copies of the program to his colleagues.
Sen. Fuata Dr. T. Iatala agreed, saying the program started in 2006,and that it can assist those receiving medical services at the hospital as well as obtaining medication or prescriptions. He suggested that hospital officials with knowledge of the program should be called before the Senate for a full explanation.
He also noted that many physicians and nurses at the hospital are not aware of this useful program to help local residents faced with the high cost of hospital care.
According to the sliding scale program, patients who are not financially able to pay for their care may apply to the LBJ’s Patient Financial Services Department, where a financial assessment will be performed and the patient notified if he/she qualifies for a discounted amount under the program.
Patients who wish to apply for the program must provide a current tax return, a current W2 or a current pay check stub. In addition, a valid identification — passport, driver’s license or immigration ID — will be required.
LBJ says that after the approval process has been completed and the changes have been made to the patient’s account, the applicant/patient will be responsible for the remaining balance. The program, once approved for a patient, is valid for 12 months only and subject to annual renewal.
UPDATE ON LBJ LAYOFFS
Sen. Fuata informed the Senate on Monday that layoffs — which were to be carried out in phases starting last Friday — have been put on hold following the governor’s orders to the hospital management, which is now looking at implementing furloughs of more than 200 workers, including nurses and doctors, by Feb. 19.
And if the furloughs are carried out, Fuata said, this will be the only hospital that he knows of that will be without specialized physicians, such as surgeons and leaving only physicians in the emergency room but not in the other clinics.
Those physicians who are on call, will only be paid in accordance to the hours they are called in to see a patient — and such services typically last for only 16 minutes, he said.
Samoa News reporter Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu contributed to this report.