7 Dec 2005

American Samoa's hospital board to consider altering higher charges

4:53 pm on 7 December 2005

The board of American Samoa's LBJ hospital is meeting today to discuss altering recently-introduced higher charges after public opposition.

The hospital's Chief Financial Officer, David Deprin, says there's been a decline in the number of people seeking treatment since the higher fees were introduced a month ago, but the hospital's revenue has risen.

He says a total of 120,000 US dollars was collected in the first two weeks following the increased charges, compared to 70,000 dollars for the same period last year.

But, our correspondent, Monica Miller, says there is concern that people might be staying away from the hospital when they shouldn't.

"They want to prevent a situation where people who are sick, are not coming to the hospital because they can't afford the fees. I know that the board will be looking at perhaps, setting a flat rate for children, for example."

Monica Miller says the board is expected to set an all inclusive out-patient rate of 20 dollars for children under 18, which would cover lab tests, x-rays and all other services required.

She says other fee changes are also expected.