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New LBJ fee schedule set to take effect Monday, July 2

fili@samoanews.com

LBJ Medical Center is moving forward with the implementation of its proposed fee hikes, which will be effective next month, after a public hearing held on June 8. The increases were initially set for last month but the LBJ board agreed to defer the hikes until the public hearing was carried out, after some 30 requests were received for a hearing.

“Having considered the comments received at [the] public hearing”, the LBJ board “has authorized the implementation” of the facility fee hikes at the hospital, effective 8 a.m. on July 2, hospital chief executive officer Mike Gerstenberger said yesterday.

In general — for residents — most Outpatient Clinic visit fees will increase from $10 to $20; while Emergency Department visit fees will increase from $10 (Daytime) and $20 (Nighttime) to $30 anytime — which means it’s always cheaper to visit a clinic than the Emergency Department, said Gerstenberger.

Outpatient Clinic visits include Dental, ENT, Family Medicine, Family Planning, Mental Health, OB/GYN, Ophthalmology and surgery.

Most ambulance services — provided by the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) — will be $20 per trip, plus mileage, while Advanced Life Support (which is very rare) will be $40 per trip, plus mileage. According to the LBJ fee schedule, ambulance milage is $3 per transport mile.

For Pediatric, Nursery, Nursery Intensive Care and Mental Health units, daily fees will increase,“reflecting the higher staffing levels required in those areas”, said Gerstenberger.

Medical, Surgical, OB/GYN and Mental Health units are $50 per day while it’s $30 per day for Pediatric, Nursery or Neonatal ICU Nursing units and $100 per day for Intensive Care Unit, according to the fee schedule.

 LBJ says that Prescription Fees are unchanged; Most Adult Inpatient Daily Fees are unchanged; Ultrasound, CT Scan and Fluoroscopy Study Fees have decreased; and Mammography Fees are unchanged.

For non-resident, the rate hikes are a little different and much higher in certain areas. For example, outpatient clinic visits are $20 which is “due at time of service” and $85 is the “balance due later”. For an Emergency Room visit, it’s $30 “due at time of service” and $100 is the “balance due later”.

Visits to the Medical, Surgical, OB/GYN and Mental Health units are $50 “due at time of service” and $695 is the “balance due later”.

“Please note, it is always less expensive to schedule a visit to any Clinic than to use the Emergency Department. Most of the visits to the Emergency Department are not true emergencies,” said Gerstenberger, who emphasized the same message during the public hearing as well as the meeting with the Chamber of Commerce last month.

“The mission of the LBJ Tropical Medical Center is to provide care, not to deny care.  If anyone feels they cannot afford these fees, they are encouraged to contact our Collections Department and inquire about the Sliding Scale Discount Program,” he said.

“The Hospital also continues to offer the Prenatal Clinic Discount for expectant families and a daily ceiling on fees for pediatric patients,” he said, adding that new weekly fee ceilings for Dialysis patients and Outpatient Rehabilitation patients will be implemented on July 2.

Gerstenberger told the public hearing there have been no fee hikes at LBJ since 2006 while the “average health care inflation has gone up three and half percent a year,” referring to the cost of things purchased by the hospital, such as medication.

“So in the last seven years we have lost 25% of our purchasing power. Just to stay even, to buy the same things, we need 25% more money,” he said and noted that the fee increases are included in the proposed FY 2013 budget.



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