Toward eliminating incorrect charges

Bill would have hospitals report to MDA quickly on admitted patients who arrived by ambulance.

United Hatzalah and Magen David Adom volunteers at the scene of an accident (photo credit: BECKY BROTHMAN)
United Hatzalah and Magen David Adom volunteers at the scene of an accident
(photo credit: BECKY BROTHMAN)
A private member’s bill approved in a committee for its first reading in the Knesset plenum would cut red tape faced by patients brought to hospital emergency rooms by ambulance and then hospitalized, and bring a halt to unnecessary bills and fines by Magen David Adom.
MDA must charge for all its services. If a patient is brought to the hospital by ambulance but is not admitted to the hospital, he has to pay for the service. If he is hospitalized, his health fund pays for it. Sometimes, patients who are personally unable to provide information about themselves because of their medical condition get bills from MDA even if they are hospitalized and don’t have to pay for transport.
As hospitals have not rushed to tell MDA which patients were subsequently hospitalized and which weren’t, bills from the first-aid and ambulance service suddenly reach patients at home as long as months late; some patients have to pay heavy fines for not paying “on time” when in fact they were not informed before of their debt.
The Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved for a first reading the bill sponsored by MKs Shuli Moalem-refaeli and Orly Levy-Abecassis according to which all hospitals will have to provide, within 14 days, the name, ID number and address of patients transported by ambulance to MDA.
Moalem-refaeli said at the committee meeting: “The health funds and MDA must communicate with each other without involving the patient in the bureaucratic thicket; the patient still has the option of not giving some of his details.”
MDA deputy director-general Oren Blustein and the director of the Health Ministry’s rescue services Miri Cohen welcomed the bill and noted that it would simplify bureaucracy for the patients.
The director of Meuhedet Health Services’ Control Department, Maya Kitaro, expressed concern about harming the patient’s medical confidentiality, and called for submitting only the identity card number.
Noa Man, head of the control unit at Clalit Health Services, said that every month, some 2,800 ID card numbers of people transported in ambulances who are not entitled to reimbursement from their insurer are transferred to the health fund, some of them because they were not hospitalized and some of them because there were errors in their identity numbers.
“We will have to locate hospitalized patients who have already been released and verify with them whether and which of their personal details they are willing to give, which will require us to establish an entire system that requires budgets and manpower,” Mann maintained.
However, attorney Tal Nishri of the ministry’s legal office clarified that there is no need to appeal directly to patients: “If the patients wish to omit details, they must turn to the hospitals themselves and on their own initiative, and not vice versa.”